Senator Mullen tables amendment to help fill ‘vacant’ Vacant Site Levy coffers

Making Vacant Site Levy self-assessed would bring in more revenue and remove incentive to leave sites undeveloped, Senator argues.

Independent NUI Senator Rónán Mullen has tabled an amendment to the Affordable Homes Bill which aims to increase the revenue netted by local authorities from the Vacant Sites Levy and to release more land for the development of homes.

The Vacant Sites Levy is currently payable on foot of a local authority identifying and placing on a Vacant Sites Register a property which that local authority determines is suitable for housing. But Senator Mullen says that only a few hundred sites nationwide have been registered by the Council since the law was enacted in 2015 and that much eligible land is not being registered.

“It is crazy that local authorities are failing to collect revenue that could boost local services, including the provision of housing. The Vacant Site Levy coffers are being left vacant.”

“It is also unacceptable that some property owners are hit each year with a levy of up to 3% of their property’s market value, while others, with similarly suitable properties, escape the levy because their properties haven’t been registered by the local authority,” Mullen says.

Mullen argues that this situation is incentivising property owners to sit on landbanks, frustrating Government and local authority efforts to provide social and affordable housing. “When you have a levy that is so hit-and-miss, it’s hardly surprising that property owners will sit it out and hope that their land increases in value. There’s no financial penalty. I don’t blame the landowner. But if the levy was properly applied, some property owners might decide to sell and houses and apartments could be built,” Mullen says.

Senator Mullen’s amendment would require owners of any property the subject of planning permission within the last five years, and which would otherwise meet the Council’s criteria for inclusion on the Vacant Sites Register, to apply to the Council to register a description of the property and a map of the site. The levy would then have to be collected by the Council.

Mullen’s amendment makes it a Class A offence, punishable on conviction by a fine of up to (Please Insert) or (Insert period) in prison, to fail to apply to register a relevant property.

The amendment leaves intact the power of local authorities to take the initiative themselves in registering properties, as currently provided in the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015.

“The Government is at pains these days to convey a sense of urgency about the housing and accommodation crisis,” Senator Mullen says. “I hope they will examine this practical, sensible amendment and allow it to progress in the public interest.”

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For more information contact Rónán Mullen at 087 2446911