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No vacant home refurbishment grants approved in Galway City


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

No vacant home refurbishment grants approved in Galway City No vacant home refurbishment grants approved in Galway City

Not one vacant home refurbishment grant has been approved since the scheme was rolled out to Galway City at the end of last year, Government figures show.

According to the newly-published Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant Statistics published by the Department of Housing, there were 25 applications in the city under the scheme – none of these have yet been approved or rejected.

Separately, in County Galway, 181 applications were received. Of these, 40 were approved and 26 rejected. None of the approved grants have been drawn down.

The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant offers a payment of up to €50,000 to people who want to turn a formerly vacant property into their principal private residence.

A further top-up grant of up to €20,000 is available where the property has been confirmed to be derelict (structurally unsound and dangerous).

Galway West Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell said there needs to be “urgent action” by the Government on the scheme.

“Talking to applicants across the constituency, I am hearing a lot of complaints about the scheme. Many lenders are still concerned with the treatment of the council clawback and are delaying mortgage drawdown.

“We are also hearing of long processing times as councils are struggling with the staff time required to deal with the application process. There are also inconsistencies in how councils are applying the conditions of the grant.

“Despite all the promises from [Housing Minister] Darragh O’Brien, just four grants have been drawn down across the State and zero in Galway.

“The Minister needs to step in, end the inconsistencies, provide councils with the staff and ensure that all bank lenders are up to speed with the scheme.

“Prospective buyers are taking on a big enough risk purchasing and renovating a derelict or vacant home.

“They should not have to deal with all of the issues arising from a scheme that was badly designed, announced before the details were cleared up and is slow to process,” said Deputy Farrell.

To qualify for the existing scheme, properties must be vacant for two years and have been built before 2008 (previously, this was 1993) – proof of vacancy must be provided, for example through disconnections of services.

If the property is subsequently sold within five years, 100% of the grant must be repaid; or 75% repaid if it is sold five to ten years after the refurbishment.

If sold more than ten years after the refurbishment, there is no Government ‘clawback’.

Successful applicants can also separately apply for SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme grants – works covered by that scheme cannot be included in the €50,000 or €20,000 top-up under the vacant property refurbishment scheme.

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