Update on the Vacant Sites Register

The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 - Another Property Charge?

Do you own a vacant property? Is it in an area in need of housing? If so you may be subject to a charge of 3% of the market value of your property very soon.

All local authorities have been directed to compile a Vacant Sites Register by 1 January 2017.

Dublin City Council is in the process of compiling its Register and will be issuing notifications to property owners in the first quarter of 2017.

Your property may be affected if:

  • The site is in excess of 0.05 hectares. This is likely to apply to most land/property owners.

  • The land is zoned for residential or regeneration purposes. Commercial, recreational, agricultural or industrial use will not be affected.

If your property is over 0.05 hectares and in an area zoned for residential or regeneration purposes there is a further test to determine whether the charge will be applied.

Residential Land
The site must be situated in an area in need of housing, be suitable for the provision of housing and the whole or the majority of the site must be vacant or idle.

Regeneration Land
The site, or the majority of the site, must be vacant or idle. The vacant site has an adverse effect on existing amenities or reduces the amenity provided by existing public infrastructure and facilities.

The Act’s aim is to reduce the number of properties lying dormant in areas in need of housing and the Local Authorities have been given wide powers to determine whether or not a property is to be included.

Other considerations:

  • Housing strategy for the area

  • House prices and rent in the area

  • The number of households qualified for social housing in the area

  • Whether the number of habitable houses available for purchase or rent is less than than 5% of the total number of houses in the area

  • Whether the site is served by the public infrastructure and facilities to enable housing to be provided

  • Whether the site being vacant or idle has adverse effects on the character of the area.

The Register

The Act requires that the Register be a publicly available document and is currently available on the websites of Local Authorities.

  • It must contain the name and address of the property owner and the market value of the property.

  • A map of the property must also be included.

What happens next?

If your property is to appear on the Register, the relevant local authority must provide notification of intention to include it before 1 June 2018.

Once notification is received, the property owner may appeal the decision to the Local Authority.

If the appeal is unsuccessful, the property owner has a further right of appeal to An Bord Pleanala.  

The Damage

A 3% levy of the market value is payable in arrears and the charge for 2018 will be payable in January 2019. The market value is to be determined and reviewed at least every 3 years.

The Planning Authority is entitled to inspect the property and report on its value at such reasonable times as the Planning Authority considers necessary. If access is denied, a valuation will be estimated by a suitably qualified person authorised by the Planning Authority. 

An appeal of the market value of the property can be made to the Valuation Tribunal with a right of appeal to the High Court on a point of law. Once a demand for payment is received, the site owner may appeal this to An Bord Pleanala and an appeal will be considered where the site is no longer vacant in the relevant year or the amount of the levy is incorrectly calculated.

A vacant site may be deemed to have zero market value where no market exists for the site or the site is situated on contaminated lands and the estimated costs of remedial works necessary in order to use or develop the site exceeds the market value of the site itself.

It should be noted that where the property in question is subject to a loan, the amount of the levy can be reduced. Where the loan is greater than the market value of the property, the amount of the levy is 0%.

An unpaid vacant site levy will remain as a charge on the land concerned. This will have implications on the sale of a property which has been subject to the levy. The levy will have to be discharged prior to sale and a certificate of discharge will be required to be provided to the purchaser.

For further information on this topic please contact Joan Maclean or your usual AMOSS contact.