RIAI-commissioned research confirms number of empty houses unknown outside Greater Dublin Area
Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Empty houses numbers range from 301,682 to 352,414 while holiday homes numbers range from 49,789 to 73,476
“More precise numbers vital to get the planning process running again – unemployed architects, surveyors and engineers could do the work while on job-seekers allowance” – John Graby, Director, RIAI
“Local Authorities should be mandated by the Department of the Environment to undertake an independent, nationwide, impartial, physical count of the Irish housing stock using their planning officers and other construction professionals to give a definitive count of how many houses lie idle in the country. The uncertainty and lack of authoritative data on the country’s housing stock needs to be resolved to get a proper planning process going,” according to the Director of The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, John Graby.
He added, “The thousands of recently unemployed construction industry professionals, which include many hundreds of architects, should be given the immediate task of compiling a definitive and final ‘house count’ while they claim job-seekers allowance. I have spoken to many, many members who would be willing to do such work if they could be paid their out-of-pocket expenses while they wait for a pick-up in the construction sector.”
Mr. Graby was speaking at the publication of an RIAI-commissioned report that detailed the disparities between four recent major reports on the level of vacant houses in the country. These reports show that of the roughly 1.9 million houses in the State, the number of empty houses may be anything from 301,682 to 352,414 – which shows a near 17% divergence as to what the actual figure may be while the number of holiday homes varies from report to report by around 47%, with estimates ranging from 49,789 to 73,476 holiday homes. At the upper end of these numbers it suggests that over 18% of the State’s houses are empty compared to 7.3% in Europe and 3.4% in the UK which would be closer to holiday home ownership levels in Ireland.
Mr Graby added, “While it is welcome that organisations such as NUI Maynooth, UCD and DKM Economic Consultants are focusing on this important topic, their reports raise more questions than answers. These various reports show that there is clear lack of unanimity on the size of the national housing stock and the overhang of vacant property in the State. Nobody knows exactly how many houses in Ireland are occupied or empty, what kinds of houses they are, where exactly they are, what state they are in, how many are derelict or even how many holiday homes there are. If we don’t know what we have we won’t know what we need."
“In order to fill the important gaps in our knowledge about the Irish housing stock, the RIAI is now calling on each local authority in Ireland to undertake a door by door count of every house in the State and record its age, location, habitable status. We need to know the size and quality of the Irish housing market and the only way to do this is for every local authority to mobilise a nationwide physical count of the houses on a similar basis to the Census.”