HOUSING campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has criticised Limerick City and County Council after it was revealed it takes the authority on average 15 months to relet properties.
The council’s annual report shows the time taken from the vacation of a dwelling to the time taken for it to be relet is an average of 67 and a half weeks.
Fr McVerry said there is “an unprecedented housing crisis”, and it is “absurd” a home should be vacant for so long.
The report also shows that 245 adults were homeless in Limerick in 2014, and 738 were in emergency accommodation.
There are also more than 5,000 people on Limerick’s housing waiting list - with only 347 people housed from this in 2014.
Fr McVerry said: “The turnaround of houses should be three to four months. I know in the past, the turnaround was long, but that was due to a lack of funding to appoint plumbers, painters and the like. My understanding is the government has given the local authorities the funding to bring the voids back into use.”
Even waiting three to four months for a house to be re-let is too long, the campaigner argued.
“I think given the crisis we are in, it should be an exceptional case where a property takes three to four months to turn around. It is absurd. If somebody buys a property, they can usually have it ready in a few weeks.”
If the council’s “hands are tied”, and they do not have the funding to bring in handymen to bring houses up to scratch, this needs to be remedied immediately, he added.
A council spokesperson said there are a number of factors which may effect the length of time re-letting a house could take.
These include the condition a property is returned in, the time it may take to repair, renovate or adapt a unit for a special needs and the demand in an area.
“There is currently a high demand for three bedroom houses, particularly in the metropolitan district,” the spokesperson said, pointing out those of highest demand are Dooradoyle/Raheen, Castletroy/Annacotty and Kileely.
The report shows that in 2014, a number of new housing schemes started, with a total capital spend of €29.4m.
Six units apiece were built in Garryowen and Clare Street, seven sprang up in Rathbane and three in Thomondgate.
In Co. Limerick, Caherconlish saw seven units developed.
Some 37 units of accommodation were provided under the Capital Assistance Scheme through approved housing bodies, with 11 units of accommodation provided under other schemes.
The council spent some €4m on maintenance and improvement of council stock, with 94 units in regeneration areas which were boarded up and earmarked for demolition instead refurbished.