Council 'biggest hoarder of vacant housing' in Mayo

MAYO County Council has been accused of being the largest hoarders of vacant housing in the county.

Fifty council-owned homes are lying vacant in Mayo.

The average turnaround time for local authority properties to be reoccupied once vacated is eight months, whereas in the private sector it's just three weeks, Aontú's Councillor Paul Lawless has highlighted.

Addressing the monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, the Claremorris councillor said he had come across one vacant home last January only to find it still vacant in June.

What is the difficulty with re-letting, he asked council management at a meeting this week, particularly during a housing crisis.

The cost of doing up properties far would be outweighed by the long-term benefits, he stated.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Councillor Lawless criticised the council for stockpiling 50 vacant houses, describing this as 'unforgivable' amidst a severe housing crisis, and highlighting the council's status as 'the largest hoarders of vacant housing in the county'.

Last year, there were 65 vacant council houses in Mayo and that has dropped to 49 this year.

While acknowledging some progress has been made, Councillor Lawless said: “The council needs to do better. In some cases council-owned houses have been left empty for years.

“In Mayo I find it very difficult when I'm making representations to the council on behalf of constituents on the verge of homelessness, and I'm told there is nothing the council can do to help, but now I know that while they're saying this to me, they're sitting on up to 50 vacant houses.

“The government has put in place measures to bring private houses back into the rental market - such as the vacant property refurbishment grant. We need specific funding from government to tackle vacancy of council-owned houses too.

“The vacant property refurbishment grant should be extended to local authorities as well as private owners.”

Management agreed more funding is needed to deal with repairs and voids and the department are aware of that.