10,500 vacant houses in Limerick

Vacancy rate is 10.2%

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

10,500 vacant houses in Limerick

There are more than 10,500 vacant houses in Limerick

THERE ARE more than 10,500 vacant houses in Limerick city and county, and one county community is railing against the use of empty properties in private estates for social housing.

Meanwhile, around 3,200 people remain on the social housing waiting list, according to Limerick City and County Council executives.

A total of 8,000 vacant properties lie in the county, according to the most recent CSO figures, while the city, where about 80 percent of the housing list need is concentrated, holds around 2,500 vacant properties.

But the Limerick vacancy rate, at 10.2 percent, is lower than the national average of 12 percent. The figure does not include holiday houses.

The situation was discussed at a special meeting between the Adare Rathkeale councillors and the council’s housing department last Thursday evening, after concern was raised in the district about the way in which approved housing bodies (AHBs) allocate homes to those on the social housing list.

Councillors and residents expressed concern that AHBs – such as Mid-West Simon and the Peter McVerry Trust – were buying property in private estates, to allocate to those on the social housing list in conjunction with the housing authority.

Residents from a private housing estate in Askeaton – Deel Manor – said that they feared a rise in antisocial behaviour and a drop in the value of their homes after the discovery that Mid-West Simon had allocated a house in their estate.

“As it is, we are struggling to pay our mortgages, and now most houses in Deel Manor are in negative equity,” one resident told the meeting.

“We don’t know who is going to be living next door. If we end up at zero equity, where are we going to go? There’s nobody going to buy a house from us, and we are not going to get another mortgage,” the resident said.

Joe Whelan of Askeaton’s community council said that people are living in a “state of fear”.

They said that they felt Askeaton was being “targeted” by the charities, but the housing department said that “the number of AHB homes in Askeaton is relatively low”.

Councillors and residents also voiced concerns over people from so called “undesirable locations” in the city being moved into council houses in county towns. But the housing department responded that there are 29 people on the housing list who have indicated Askeaton as preference, many of whom would typically be from the town itself.

Fianna Fáil Cllr Kevin Sheahan said that he has never agreed that public and private housing should be mixed.

Approved Housing Bodies are not-for-profit organisations that provide and also manage social housing. “In the Limerick context, there is quite a bit of activity with approved housing bodies. We have 31 AHBs that are active, second only to Dublin city,” said a senior executive architect in the council, Seamus Hanrahan.

AHB housing stock in Limerick is around 1,200, while the council’s own housing stock is just over 5,000.

Social Development executive at Limerick City and County Council, Carmel Kirby said: “AHBs manage and monitor their tenants very very closely, and they take their tenancy management responsibilities very seriously.

“Where you have an AHB in your community, the likelihood of them managing their tenants is extremely high and they do it very well.”