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Unlocking the Potential of Vacant Properties: A Guide to the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant

In an era where housing shortages are a pressing issue in many regions, initiatives that encourage the refurbishment of vacant and derelict properties offer a beacon of hope. One such initiative is the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, a scheme designed to revitalise unused properties, breathing new life into communities and providing much-needed homes. This short guide delves into some of the intricacies of the grant, elucidating eligibility criteria, covered works, application processes, and more, to equip property owners with the knowledge needed to transform vacant spaces into vibrant homes.

Understanding the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant

Funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage through the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund, the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant aims to refurbish vacant and derelict homes for residential use. Whether the intention is to inhabit these rejuvenated spaces or to rent them out, the grant facilitates a transformation that contributes to community revitalisation and housing availability.

Eligible applicants can receive up to €50,000 for renovating a vacant property and up to €70,000 for properties deemed derelict. Enhanced funding limits apply to projects on off-shore islands, reflecting the unique challenges and costs associated with these locations. Additionally, a special provision exists for traditional farmhouses, offering up to €7,500 for conservation advice, ensuring these heritage properties are restored with respect to their historical significance.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the grant, applicants must navigate a set of criteria that ensures the program benefits genuine renovation projects:

  • The property must have been vacant for at least two years and must not have been intentionally left unoccupied to qualify for the grant.
  • Only properties built before 2008 are eligible, aligning with the goal to refurbish older buildings that contribute to the housing stock without encouraging speculative vacancy.
  • Applicants must either own the property or be in the process of purchasing it.
  • The property must serve as the applicant’s principal private residence post-renovation or be made available for rent, adhering to the Residential Tenancies Board regulations.
  • Compliance with tax obligations and local property tax payments is mandatory, along with a commitment not to have previously benefited from the grant for a similar purpose.

Scope of Covered Works

The grant encompasses a wide range of renovation activities, from foundational repairs to aesthetic finishes, ensuring that refurbished properties meet modern living standards. Notable covered works include:

  • Structural repairs such as demolition, substructure, and superstructure works.
  • External and internal completions, including doors, windows, and decorative finishes.
  • Essential services installation, including plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.
  • Kitchen and bathroom fittings, along with necessary landscaping works.

It is crucial to note that the grant does not support the complete demolition and reconstruction of properties, nor does it cover energy efficiency upgrades eligible for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) grants.

Application Process

The journey to securing a Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant involves several steps, starting with the submission of a detailed application to the local authority. This includes proof of vacancy, ownership, planning permission (if required), and detailed quotes for the intended works. Following an assessment and approval process, successful applicants receive funding based on a cost assessment by the local authority, ensuring that renovations proceed within predefined financial and quality standards.

Commitments and Consequences

Beneficiaries of the grant must adhere to specific conditions, including the requirement to occupy or rent out the refurbished property for a minimum duration. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in the repayment of the grant.