Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd believes that implementing a new vacant property tax could incentivise owners into putting houses on the market and easing the current property crisis.
Speaking earlier in this month in the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government on the subject of vacant housing, O’Dowd said that homes that are vacant for more than 12 months and they are not the primary home of the owner, they should be subject to a tax.
“It is my strong view is that if such homes are vacant for one year or more and they are not the principal private residence of the owner there should be a penalty,” he told the committee.
“There are incentives there to put it on the market. If the house is in bad repair it can be supported, there are deals you can get with local authorities that it can be taken into lease to be let out.
“There is no excuse in this crisis for any home that isn’t a principal private residence not to be taxed.
“I proposed through by bill that it would be double the tax for the second year, triple for the third year and so on. I think we need to take very hard decisions because an empty home that has a capacity to put a family into – it’s a disgrace, it’s a disgrace that we allow that to continue. I feel very strongly about that.”
The TD presented a draft bill on the proposed tax to the Oireachtas prior to his appearance at the Joint Committee on Housing this month but his bill was shot down after he was told only a government minister can introduce legislation that imposes a tax.
Writing on Facebook on Tuesday, O’Dowd quoted census figures that showed there are currently 600 vacant properties in Ardee – with 4,256 across county Louth including nearly 1,000 in Drogheda and 1,200 in Dundalk.
‘If you put a vacant property tax on vacant properties that are not your primary residence surely this would force more properties onto the market’ the Drogheda-based TD wrote.