The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, published figures showing 2,307 vacant social homes were brought back into active use in 2022 under the Voids Programme. This is just above the anticipated figure of 2,273 vacant social homes, indicating that the intensive work in 2020 and 2021 by local authorities in this area has reduced the number of vacant social homes. The Voids Programme support local authorities in preparing vacant homes for re-letting.
Making more efficient use of existing housing stock is a key action in the government’s Housing for All plan. The Voids Programme builds on the ongoing work to tackle vacancy and dereliction and bring vacant properties into re-use for housing.
Minister O’Brien said, “apart from the obvious advantages of meeting demand for social housing, the return of these vacant social homes has a positive impact on communities. It helps avoid vacant homes becoming run down and derelict in some instances and the source of anti-social behaviour. Local authorities seized the opportunity to bring these homes back into active use in 2022 and this will make a real difference to the lives of over 2,300 households.”
“It’s important to note and welcome the fact that nationally the number of vacant social homes requiring pre-letting works was lower in 2022 than in 2021 or 2020. This clearly shows that our plan is working. In 2020 and 2021 we spent more than €88 million bringing 6,032 vacant social homes back into use, and evidently, we are reducing the number of voids in need of refurbishment works following those two intense years of tackling vacancy. We are now progressively shifting to a position of planned maintenance of social housing stock to ensure minimal turnaround and re-let times for social housing stock.”
In 2022, local authorities recouped almost €29 million in funding for stock improvement programmes for the refurbishment of vacant local authority-owned social housing. Of the €28.9 million, €3.6 million supported the transition to planned maintenance and included funding towards stock condition surveys.
The number of vacant homes that had works done to prepare them for pre-letting was lower in 2022 than in 2021 and 2020. This is a result of the intense two-year period of tackling long-term social housing vacancy and legacy vacancy. It was always envisaged that the programme would revert to more normalised levels in 2022.
Local authorities are continuing to transition from a response-based approach to a strategic and informed planned maintenance approach to social housing. This is based on stock condition surveys. The planned maintenance/voids programme in 2022 supported this.