Laois are being urged to apply for funding to make homes from vacant and abandoned properties, according to a Laois minister who says it could be an important way for first-time buyers to find a home.
Sean Fleming, Minister of State at the Department of Finance, welcomed the government’s new €50 million Croí Cónaithe (Cities) fund which he says aims to help people live in cities and towns by granting a grant to renovate vacant and abandoned properties.
“This program can be very beneficial in a number of towns and villages in Laois where there are many such properties,” he said.
Fianna Fáil TD said the basic grant is up to €30,000 to renovate a vacant property and an additional €20,000 is available if the property is abandoned. He explained that this gives a maximum grant of €50,000 under this scheme and applicants can also benefit from the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme which covers works up to €26,750.
He urged people to apply.
“We all know of vacant and abandoned properties in cities and towns across the county. I encourage people to apply for these grants as soon as possible. This grant program is available in cities and towns with populations over 400.
“Very importantly, this program is available for first-time buyers and for people who are leaving their current home that they are selling or have sold and want to live in a city or town. It is also available for people who previously had a home but may no longer have a legal interest in that home due to, for example, divorce, separation, insolvency or bankruptcy.
“A priority for me in government is our Housing for All plan which specifically encourages the refurbishment of vacant and derelict properties to boost local housing supply.
“I think there will be a strong appetite for this new program in County Laois, which will support people acquiring a home and at the same time breathe new life into our towns, villages and communities in County Laois,” said said the TD.
Here are the key points of the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Fund.
- Properties considered for inclusion must have been vacant for two years or more and built before 1993.
- Confirmation of vacancy can be validated and verified through the use of, for example, utility bills which can help determine periods of vacancy (e.g. usage or disconnection pattern) or other evidence available to the satisfaction of the local authority.
- The scheme is exclusively available to individuals or households for whom the property will be their primary private residence.
- It is not available for businesses and/or developers etc.
- A Better Energy Home Scheme grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) may be available in combination with this grant. Work covered by the SEAI Better Energy Homes Scheme will therefore not be covered.
- Proof of vacancy and ownership will be required to support payment of the grant.
- In terms of ownership, it is up to the applicant to confirm ownership with the local authority.
- A local authority may give approval in principle to a grant application where the applicant can provide evidence of active negotiations for the purchase of a property, i.e. confirmation of commitment from the real estate agency or the owner of the property and when the owner provides such proof of vacancy as required by the plan on behalf of the applicant.
The following categories of works will be eligible for a grant, subject to a reasonable assessment of costs by the local authority and any limitations for specific works:
- Substructure work, including work on foundations, raised walls, floor slabs, waterproofing and underpinnings
- Structural work to superstructure, including walls, party walls, chimneys, suspended wooden floors, wooden frameworks
- Works on interior walls, stairs and landings, as well as interior wall finishes including doors, windows and applied finishes
- Exterior wall finishes including doors, windows, sills and applied finishes
- Roof finishes including flashings, fascias, soffits, gutters, downspouts
- Building services, including plumbing, heating, ventilation, electrical services, telecommunications,
- Painting and decoration necessary due to the works carried out
- Extension as part of exempt development under planning regulations, as part of wider renovation
- Necessary external works and site development works carried out within the perimeter of the site
- Professional services associated with the work
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage says there are over 500 towns and villages in Ireland with a population of over 400 people. It is intended that the Crói Cónaithe Fund will apply to all of these towns, as well as some smaller villages, which may not be defined as towns or villages for the purposes of CSO census mapping but with sufficient supply. of services and equipment.
While initially the Fund will not apply to towns within the city limits and suburbs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Laois and Waterford as defined by CSO census mapping, the possibility of including these cities in cities and suburbs will be further explored during the initial phase of the program.
Towns outside the city and suburban boundaries in the CSO Census are defined as a separate ‘town’ and will therefore be eligible, eg Balbriggan.
Applicants can only benefit from the grant once respecting the requirement that it be their primary private residence.
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