A NEW grant for first-time buyers buying derelict property is due to be announced by the government soon, the housing minister has said.
Minister Darragh O’Brien has said the grant of between €20,000 and €30,000 to encourage first-time buyers to buy derelict properties will be announced at some point before April this year.
Discussing its merits, he said: “So there are a lot of potential first-time buyers who see properties on the main streets of our towns and cities and in effect look at them and say if I had a little help, I could buy there, I could live there.”
Full details of the scheme have yet to be confirmed, but it is expected that funds will be accessed through local authorities for refurbishment and other costs – similar to the Help To Buy grant for new homes.
Housing expert Rory Hearne said more needed to be done to address the issue of vacant and abandoned properties.
He said: ‘What we need is a really effective vacant and derelict property tax. What is vital is that it is enough of a deterrent to essentially force owners of vacant and derelict properties to sell or develop them and use them as rental accommodation.
A report on residential buildings from geoDirectory published this week found that there were more than 100,000 vacant and abandoned homes across Ireland.
Caitriona Scully, who recently bought her first home in Limerick, said it took two years of research before she was able to hit the property ladder – and that was after she got ‘a little bit of help’ .
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She told RTE: “It’s soul destroying at times, you’re looking 40/50,000 over your budget and when you sit down and do the numbers you’re like I can never afford it. “
“The maximum I could have gotten is €120,000 so I started looking in that time frame and literally all I found was abandoned properties. I couldn’t find anything in my price range .
“I was lucky in the end, I found something, but it wasn’t exactly in my price range, I had a little help with that.”
New regulations allowing pubs to move from commercial to residential use without planning permission will come into force next month.
Commenting on this, the Minister for Fianna Fail said: “I believe we will be able to release quite a large resource of very important buildings. Most of our towns and villages are where our pubs are…they are on the streets main.”
However, Sinn Fein said the new measures did not go far enough.
FROM PUBLIC HOUSES TO HOUSES
MP Eoin O Broin said: “This is another example of tinkering around the edges because even if the premises don’t have to apply for a change of use, they still have to apply for a variety of other planning permissions, in particular to meet the standards in terms of residential use for safety, etc.”
Peter McVerry Trust CEO Pat Doyle said there are vacant and derelict pubs across the country which could be used as accommodation.
The head of the housing charity said: “We are currently working on four pubs in four counties and they will be bringing back 18 properties.
“Everyone knows that when you’re looking at planning a new development, if we want to get these 18 apartments together in one place in Dublin, it’s going to take us two years to do that between planning, sourcing, calling offers, everything else.
“Now if we already have the unit and they’re avoiding the planning, it’s really just the procurement process and setting up the builder on site and upgrading the building. “
Earlier this year we featured some of the beautiful homes that have been built from the ruins of a former pub in Waterford.