Vacant home tax 'probably not a game-changer' for housing crisis, says Taoiseach

The Taoiseach has said a vacant home tax is being considered but has warned there is no "quick-fix solution" to the homeless crisis, writes Elaine Loughlin.

Leo Varadkar has said the housing and homeless emergency will take range of solutions and has suggested supports to keep landlords in the rental market.

Leaving a homeless summit in Dublin this afternoon Mr Varadkar said the construction of social housing is being "ramped up" and between 2,000 and 3,000 social houses will be built this year, he said this would be scaled up further in the coming years.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has called the country's 31 local authority chief executives to a meeting today where they will be asked to update him on efforts made to solve the problem to date and planned initiatives.

Speaking after attending the morning session, Mr Varadkar said a vacant home tax is "under consideration" but added this may not have a significant impact.

"If you take for example Fingal or Galway where they have actually gone out to the actual houses to see how many[houses] are vacant and while the CSO may say there is a certain number and geocodes say there is another number when the council staff have gone out to the houses and apartments and knocked on doors they have found that the numbers that are really vacant are actually much smaller than any of the numbers show.

"There is a story behind each house in each case, sometimes it's that the person is in a nursing home, sometimes somebody has died and the house is in probate and there is a dispute over who owns it and they are the real complications that arise.

"So it's certainly not something that we will rule out, it's certainly under consideration, would it be a game changer in terms of making housing available? Probably not," Mr Varadkar said.


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