SCSI and RICS Membership

Vacant Property Grants

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The State is now offering substantial Vacant Property Grants

A report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has shown that throughout the last three months of 2021, the vacancy rate for dwellings based on metered electricity consumption was 4.3%, meaning that thousands of homes are laying empty around the country, some of which only require a modest investment to return to use a family homes. The vacancy rate in Dublin, where housing need is most acute, has grown considerably since 2016. Irish towns and cities are also blighted by derelict properties including former commercial properties that have the potential to provide badly needed homes.

What is the Vacant Property Grant?

The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant is a payment you can get if you are turning a vacant house or building into your permanent home or a rental property. A grant of up to €50,000 is available. If the refurbishment costs exceed the standard grant of up to €50,000 and the property is considered derelict (structurally unsound and dangerous) a top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 is available. Therefore, the total amount available for a derelict property is €70,000.00.

Works, the cost of which can be covered under the scheme, include demolition and site clearances, substructure works including work to foundations, rising walls, floor slabs, damp-proofing and underpinning, structural works including the construction of walls, roofs, windows and doors as well as building services including plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical services. The local authority will do a cost assessment and provide funding within any limits set out by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

In processing the application, the local authority will review the application form and supporting documents, arrange for a visit to the property to assess the viability of the proposed works, assess the projected costs of the planned works, assess whether the application has been successful and the amount of grant to be approved. Assuming the applicant is successful, they will then need to submit invoices for the works completed. The local authority will revisit the property to ensure the works are completed.

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Kelleher Chartered Building Surveyors have been providing building surveying services to Clients wishing to apply for the derelict property grant as a structural survey report is needed as part of the application process if the property is to qualify under the derelict property category and receive the maximum amount in financial support.

How does someone qualify for this grant?

To qualify for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • The property must have been vacant for 2 years or more.
  • The property must have been built before 2008. (Before 1 May 2023, only homes built before 1993 qualified.)
  • You must own the property or be in the process of buying it.
  • You must live in the property as your principal private residence when the work is completed, or make it available for rent. If you are going to rent the property when the work is done, you must register the tenancy with the Residential Tenancies Board.
  • You must have tax clearance from Revenue and your tax affairs must be in order.
  • You must have paid your Local Property Tax, if applicable.
  • You must not be a registered company or developer.

Whether the grants available will encourage people in sufficient numbers to return vacant properties to use as homes is yet to be seen. In fact, the SCSI (Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland) through a study undertaken by them, has said that ‘barely a quarter of vacant or derelict properties in the Republic are financially viable for renovation.

The study, which highlights the high costs and regulatory barriers faced by people trying to restore vacant properties, assessed 20 possible renovation projects, 13 residential/owner occupier type properties and seven investor types. It found that just five – three in Dublin, one in Galway and one in Cork – were financially viable to renovate. To be financially viable, the market value of the renovated property must be greater than the starting market value plus the cost of renovation. This is a key consideration for homeowners or investors seeking to renovate a property with mortgage funds’.

Link to application form

(sources: www.gov.ie, Irish Examiner, Irish Mirror, Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland(SCSI))

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