New grants supporting people to buy derelict properties “need to be effective,” independent TD for Galway East, Sean Canney, has said.

A new Croí Conaithe (towns) fund, as part of the ‘Housing For All’ scheme, is currently being processed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien.

The new grant will be part of a multi-pronged approach to tackle unoccupied and dilapidated buildings across the country.

The new scheme will assist people who buy derelict properties to renovate and live in. A Department of Housing spokesperson said:

“The objective will be that those who buy a vacant house will be able to secure funding through their local authority towards renovation and other costs.”

The new fund for servicing sites for new homes in regional towns and villages alongside supporting the refurbishment of vacant houses will play a key role.

The spokesperson said public infrastructure agencies, such as Irish Water, and local communities will provide serviced sites for housing, which “will help attract people to build their own homes and live in smaller towns and villages”.

The full details of the scheme, due to be announced in the first quarter of 2022, are yet to be finalised.

Canny also addressed the issue of protected sites as a “stumbling block” that needs to be urgently resolved and clear guidance for local authorities is needed.

Instead of leaving protected structures to decay, they can be refurbished and become a new home for buyers, the deputy said.

“Our towns and villages across the country have many unoccupied buildings and it makes sense to create the supports to bring these buildings back into living spaces.”

Repurposing unoccupied buildings will also benefit the reduction of carbon output from construction sides as less material is required for refurbishing these buildings, according to the TD.

Other grants and schemes

Advocating in the Dáil and directly to Minister O’Brien, supportive measures for buyers should be in addition to the new grant, Canney stated.

The TD urged the minister to extend the Help to Buy Scheme (HTB) to include first time buyers of derelict sites, which should also be excluded from planning and development charges.

The HTB scheme so far only helps first-time buyers of newly-built homes to buy a new house or apartment or once-off self-build properties costing €500,000, or less.

Minister O’Brien launched the expanded Local Authority Home Loan scheme which came into effect on January 4, 2022.

To be eligible for the scheme, the property must be a new, second-hand or self-build property. Despite refurbishment costs not being included, the property must be in habitable condition, acceptable to the local authority.