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New bill aims to combat the scourge of derelict buildings in Laois and across the country

Derelict Houses Rathdowney

Laois Green Party representatives have welcomed the Vacancy Dereliction and Regeneration Bill 2022 which was launched yesterday.

Under this Bill, homes that are vacant in for at least 180 days in the preceding year would be subject to a new vacant home tax at 3% of the market value of the property, to be collected by revenue as part of the local property tax.

This would be re-paid to the local authority where the vacant property lies, which for example, would fund housing needs.

The tax would not apply to the principal private residence of the owner and includes a number of key exemptions.

This includes if an owner is in care; if the occupant has moved temporarily for work purposes; if the property is a holiday home; or if the property is undergoing major renovations.

An initiative introduced in Vancouver in Canada has seen a 25% decrease in vacant property since introducing similar tax measures in 2017.

Derelict and vacant properties are found across Laois and County Councillors have frequently raised issues with them. 

According to local Green Party representatives in Laois, this bill should help solve the problem.

Rosie Palmer, Green Party representative for Portlaoise said: “One of the most critical issues in Ireland at the moment is housing and the cost of living.

“It is an issue faced by every age group across every part of society.

“There are at least 90,000 vacant homes across the country and neglected and derelict building can be seen across all of our towns and villages in Laois.

“This Bill will be good for rural towns and villages, our local economy and our communities.”

John Holland, Green Party representative for Portarlington said: “I’m delighted to see this bill being introduced.

“Here in Portarlington, we have a former bank building lying idle and thwarting the efforts of Tidy Towns to improve the appearance of the town.

“Laois County Council is trying to engage with the owner but legislation like this will greatly strengthen the hand of local authorities in taking action on derelict buildings like this.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.