A new €50 million vacant-property scheme was launched this week that, it is hoped, will breathe life into rural villages and towns, giving people a first chance to get on the property ladder, and giving old buildings a second chance.

The new scheme will offer a grant of up to €30,000 for refurbishment, including the conversion of a property, which has not been used as a home before now.

The Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund will benefit those – including first-time buyers – who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their permanent home.

The scheme will, it is hoped, further the aim to create town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit, while also functioning as the service, social, cultural and recreational hub for the local community, according to the Department of the Taoiseach.

The fund will be delivered through local authorities who will provide a grant to support the refurbishment of vacant properties, with priority given to applications in areas where the level of vacancy or dereliction is high.

Where a property is derelict, a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 will be available, bringing the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000.

This can also be combined with the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme that covers works of up to €26,750.

Scheme welcome

Independent TD for Galway east, Sean Canney, has welcomed the announcement of he scheme, especially the first-time-buyers’ inclusion.

“There are 27,000 such properties in the west and north west region. By renovating these properties, we will be regenerating our towns and villages and also help to find solutions to our housing crisis. It also makes sense from a carbon-saving perspective,” he said.

He went on to say that he believes strongly that the government should go further and extend the Help-to-Buy Scheme to these properties and remove the need for planning which is an “unnecessary cost and time delay”.