Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath has said that the Government will be asking local authorities to actively work with the owners of vacant properties to identify the reasons why a property was vacant and what needed to be done to return it to use.
There were many reasons why such properties were vacant, he told Newstalk Breakfast, such as probate, the owner could be in a nursing home or the property was derelict.
While an Indecon report some years ago had advised against a vacant property tax, there was a need to make better use of such properties, he said.
Later on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr McGrath said that it was easier to use existing housing stock rather than to build from scratch.
It was a complex challenge and one that the Government would keep under review.
The Minister defended the new Housing Plan saying that the Government was confident that it would work to block the bulk buying of new homes by investment funds. The combination of tax and planning regulations would be effective, he said.
When asked about the position of short term rentals such as AirBnb, Mr McGrath said that a balance needed to be struck as short term accommodation was important to the tourism sector which was integral to economic recovery.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Mr McGrath said that the investment funds were necessary for the building of apartment complexes, if there was an end to such international investment then there would be a reduction in supply.
Mr McGrath pointed out that an apartment complex had not been built in Cork city in the last decade and that needed to be rectified.
“There are significant issues with apartment viability. To stop international investment funds would have a devastating impact."