According to data released to the Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín, only 392 applications have been made for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant.

The Meath West TD said that the scheme should be extended to include all homeowners and must include local authorities.

Deputy Tóibín said: “Aontú has been campaigning to bring vacant properties back into the market for some time now. It is ridiculous that while we have over 10,000 people homeless in the state, there are over 160,000 vacant properties here too.

“When we look at the 2022 census findings and compare them with the 2016 census, we see that roughly 50,000 properties have remained vacant over those six years. This is a national scandal.

“News from the Minister for Housing that there have been less than 400 grant applications to refurbish vacant properties is very disappointing. It’s hardly a drop in the ocean when it comes to fixing this housing crisis.”

Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant

The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant provides funding to refurbish vacant and derelict homes. It can also be used to renovate properties that have not been used as residential properties before.

To get the grant, the applicant must live in the home as the applicant’s principal private residence, when the work is completed. You can get up to €30,000 to renovate a vacant property and an additional top-up grant of up to €20,000, if the property is derelict.

The grant was initially only available for vacant homes in regional towns and villages. However, on November 15, 2022, the grant was extended to cover all areas.

Deputy Tóibín claims that the grant is “very flawed” as it appears to be only for people who own a vacant property which they intend to make their “principal primary residence”.

The TD said that this would mean that homeowners cannot use the grant to help bring their property back into the rental market where there is currently see a large demand and very low supply.

“The grant is being run through local authorities which is extraordinary given that many local authorities up and down the country are themselves the biggest culprits when it comes to the hoarding of vacant properties,” the deputy said.

“The funding from central government for this scheme should be increased and provisions made so that local authorities can tap into the funding themselves so as to bring council-owned vacant properties back into use.

“People are sleeping on the streets, homeless hostels in many areas are full to capacity, and yet local authorities are sitting on vacant properties; it’s unforgiveable,” the deputy concluded.