Vacant sites

Introduction

Since 2017, local authorities must maintain a vacant sites register. This is a register of lands in the local authority’s area that are suitable for housing but have not been put forward for development. This requirement was introduced by the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015.

Sites included on the register are subject to the vacant sites levy. The levy is intended to encourage the development of vacant sites and to reduce land hoarding. Guidance on the vacant sites levy is available from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in Circular PL 06/2018 (pdf).

A new Zoned Land Tax was announced in Budget 2022, which will eventually replace the vacant sites levy. The Zoned Land Tax will apply to land which has not been developed for housing, but is serviced and zoned for residential development. The tax will be 3% of the market value of the land and it will be collected by Revenue. This tax will not apply until 2023 at the earliest. In the meantime, the vacant sites levy continues to apply.

You can also find information on Derelict sites.

What is a vacant site?

A vacant site is either:

  • Residential land (more than 0.05 hectares) where there is a need for housing in the area. The site is suitable for housing and the majority of the site has not been in use for an extended period of time.
  • Regeneration land (other than residential land) where the majority of the site has not been in use for an extended period of time, or the site is having a negative impact on existing amenities or on the character of the area.

Vacant sites register

A site can be added to the vacant sites register when the local authority decides that the property has been vacant for 12 months or more. The local authority must give written notice to the owner, of their intention to include a site on the register.

The register must contain the:

  • Location of each site including a map
  • Name and address of the owner
  • Current market value

The register is available at the offices of the local authority and on their website for public viewing.

Appeals

If a local authority notifies you about including your site on the vacant sites register, you can appeal the decision within 28 days. If this appeal is unsuccessful, you can submit a further appeal to An Bord Pleanala.

Rates

The vacant sites levy is paid to the local authority each year until the site is removed from the register. The levy is paid in arrears each year, this means that the levy for 2021 will be charged in January 2022. Since 2019, the levy is 7% of the market value of the land. Previously it was 3%.

Contact

If you have any queries or complaints about vacant sites, contact your local authority.

Page edited: 13 October 2021