New regulations are planned to come in before the beginning of next month in Ireland, which would allow first-time buyers to purchase a vacant or derelict property and turn it into a home without the requirements for planning permission.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien announced the new regulations will also allow pubs to change from commercial to residential properties.

The new regulations will see eligible first-time buyers receive a grant of between €20,000 and €30,000, and will be announced some time before April to encourage first-time buyers to purchase derelict properties. Mr. O’Brien said “a lot of potential first-time buyers are out there who see properties on the main streets and are looking at them saying – if I had a little bit of help I could buy and live there.”

Peter McVerry Trust CEO Pat Doyle says there are vacant and derelict pubs across the country which could be used as housing, so if we already have the unit and are able to avoid the planning, then really it’s just about the procurement process, getting the builder on site and getting the building up to scratch.

A residential building report from geoDirectory that was recently published, found that there are more than 100,000 empty homes across the country, 90,158 vacant dwellings and 22,096 derelict dwellings. They also found 44,110 total property transactions of dwellings occurred in the 12 months up to October 2021, 16% of which were new dwellings and 84% were second-hand dwellings.

The news is part of a strategy to tackle the ongoing housing crisis, particularly in major cities such as Dublin or Cork where vacant and derelict buildings could be repurposed as residential units, however it also provides more assistance to first-time buyers, especially those struggling to find properties in their price range.

Earlier this year, there was a similar occurrence in Waterford, where eight new homes had been pulled from the ruins of a pub which had been derelict for almost ten years. It was aimed at workers who earn too much to qualify for social housing supports, but cannot afford to buy or rent on the open market.

Senator Cummins said this isn’t a solution to the ongoing housing crisis however, repurposing these buildings would play a role in increasing the housing units in a time of need.

Hopefully in future we will continue to see similar occurrences being rolled out and other councils following suit.