Sinn Féin has today published legislation aimed at tackling the housing crisis by addressing the failure to collect levies applied under the Derelict Sites Levy.
Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne has urged the government to back the legislation to ensure it delivers much-needed change for people priced out of affordable housing.
The legislation was published today at Leinster House by Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould.
Speaking today, Teachta Wynne said:
“Right across this state, there are thousands of potential homes falling further and further into disrepair.
“Many of these are in Clare and are being left idle and rotting in the middle of a housing crisis by land hoarders.
“The Derelict Sites Levy was introduced as one of a number of tools available to local authorities to tackle dereliction.
“Here in Clare, for the 39 properties that are registered on the Derelict Sites Register – not a single cent has been collected in 2019 or 2020 and one can assume it’s the same for 2021.
“This is an indictment considering how badly needed these funds are as communities across the county are crying out for essential financial supports for childcare services, family resource centre services and mental health services to name but a few.
“This has failed and it is time for the Minister, the government and local authorities to be held to account for this failure. Sinn Féin’s legislation would impose transparency and accountability across local and national government where there are failures to collect the Derelict Sites Levy.
“It would create a requirement for a local authority who has collected less than 75% of the Derelict Sites Levy to publish a report outlining the reason why it was not collected, the reasons for the failure to collect the amount and the level of engagement they have undertaken with the property owners.
“This would include a requirement to outline any concerns the local authority has in relation to resourcing, staffing or other issues preventing them from collecting levies.
“The Minister would then be required to publish a reply, addressing the issues raised.
“What we want to see is a situation whereby local authorities are applying levies on all eligible properties and collecting these levies.
“Not only will this act as a deterrent and ultimately reduce levels of dereliction but in the meantime, the additional funding will support local authorities to build houses and resource communities.
“We are talking about over €12million in untapped potential revenue. When local authorities are struggling year-on-year to balance budgets, why should those hoarding potential homes walk away scot-free?
“Every derelict property in this state is an insult to those trapped in the Housing Crisis. Here in Clare, far too many people who are losing hope of ever having their own home are being forced to walk past empty rotting houses daily.
“It is so frustrating that in the middle of a housing crisis we are surrounded by homes that are falling apart – these homes should be repaired and made available for families who will cherish them. These walls should be full of laughter and memories not mould and mildew.
“The Government continues to use HAP and RAS payments to accommodate many but these are always short-term solutions and are not providing security of tenure. It’s fire-fighting attempts by this Government.
“Sinn Féin’s legislation would make it harder for land hoarders to justify allowing these homes to rot.
“Land inflation means that people are actually making a profit off dereliction. We need to increase the financial penalties and apply them across the board so that there is no financial incentive to dereliction.
“The Minister has admitted that this is a problem but essentially shrugged his shoulders. The legislation to tackle dereliction exists, it’s time we started to enforce it.
“Sinn Féin in government would tackle the housing crisis and stand up for ordinary workers and families by delivering affordable homes. We have the policies and solutions to deliver the change that people need.”