Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant

What is the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant?

The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant provides funding so you can refurbish vacant and derelict homes.

It can also be used to renovate vacant and derelict properties that have not been used as residential properties before. However, this only applies if the non-residential properties were used for commercial or public use before and now have the correct planning permission.

You can get the grant if you are refurbishing the vacant property so you can live there, or so you can rent the property out.

You can get a grant of up to €50,000 to renovate a vacant property and up to €70,000, if the property is derelict. You can get more if you are living on an off-shore island. And, there is an additional grant for expert conservation advice if you are refurbishing a vacant traditional farmhouse.

The Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant is funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage through the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund and you apply to your local authority.

If you have questions about the grant or want to know if your property qualifies, you can:

You can also find information on how to re-use old and vacant buildings in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s Bringing Back Homes (pdf) manual.

Planned local authority loan to help people buy and renovate vacant homes

On 5 June 2024, the Government announced that the Local Authority Purchase and Renovation Loan will soon be available to help people buy and renovate derelict and non-habitable homes. This will be an extension of the Local Authority Home Loan and you will need to qualify for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant to get it.

Do I qualify for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant?

To qualify for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, you must meet the following criteria:

  • The property must have been vacant for 2 years or more. You will not qualify if the property has been left unreasonably or purposely vacant so you can get the grant.
  • The property must have been built before 2008. (Before 1 May 2023, only homes built before 1993 qualified.)
  • You must own the property or be in the process of buying it.
  • You must live in the property as your principal private residence when the work is completed or make it available for rent. If you are going to rent the property when the work is done, you must register the tenancy with the Residential Tenancies Board.
  • You must have tax clearance from Revenue and your tax affairs must be in order.
  • You must have paid your Local Property Tax, if applicable.
  • You must not be a registered company or developer.

You can only get the grant twice. You can get one grant to refurbish a home to live in, and another for a home you are going to rent out.

How much is the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant?

You can get up to €50,000 to renovate a vacant property and up to €70,000 if the property is derelict. The grant is inclusive of the VAT cost of the works.

The grant amounts increased on 1 May 2023. If you applied for the grant before the 1 May 2023 and you haven’t got your grant yet, the new grant amounts can be applied. The FAQs about the grant have more information on this.

If you are living on an off-shore island, you can get up to €84,000 to renovate a derelict building or up to €60,000 for a vacant property. The limits for how much you can get for each type of work are also increased by 20% if you live on one of these islands.

If the renovation costs more than the grant, you will have to pay for this. You can apply to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for the Better Energy Homes Grant Scheme. This grant helps improve the energy efficiency of your home, by helping with the cost of insulating your home or installing a heat pump or solar panels. Work covered by the SEAI scheme is not covered by the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant.

The grant must be approved before any work begins.

What work is covered?

The grant covers the work listed below. The amount you get is based on a cost assessment by your local authority. It will not go above the funding limits for each type of work set-out in this table. This rule does not apply if you live on an off-shore island, where you can get up to 20% above these funding limits.

Grant limits for work with the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant

Type of work

Maximum amount

Demolition work and site clearances including removing hazardous materials

Vacant Property Grant: €50,000  
Derelict Top-Up Grant: €70,000

Substructure works including work to foundations, rising walls, floor slabs, damp-proofing and underpinning

Vacant Property Grant: €50,000  
Derelict Top-Up Grant: €70,000

Superstructure works including works to walls, chimneys, upper floors, stairs, roof structure and structural timbers

Vacant Property Grant: €50,000  
Derelict Top-Up Grant: €70,000

External completions including door, windows and windowsills

€21,000

Internal completions including doors, frames, architraves, ironmongery

€7,000

Skirtings

€3,500

Fascias, soffits and rainwater goods

€4,200

Roof completions including flashings, fascias, soffits, gutters and downpipes

€14,000

Tiling and waterproof finishes to wet areas

€2,800

Painting and decorating

€10,500

Roof finishes

€14,000

Services including plumbing, heating, ventilation, power, lighting, telecommunications, smoke detectors, CO2 detectors.

Vacant Property Grant: €50,000  
Derelict Top-Up Grant: €70,000

Kitchen units

€7,700

Sanitary-ware and bathroom fittings

€2,800

Necessary work needed on land around the home.

€7,000

Extensions

Vacant Property Grant: €50,000  
Derelict Top-Up Grant: €70,000

Professional services for the work, such as fees for surveys.

 

10% of the net construction cost including VAT or €14,000, whichever is the less.

 

The maximum amount allowed for each type of work includes VAT, and is based on a two-storey, 3-bedroom semi-detached home.

The grant does not cover completely demolishing a property and rebuilding a new one.

It also does not cover work to make your home more energy efficient which is already covered by an SEAI grant. You can apply to the SEAI for a grant for this work as well as getting the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has published a useful Bringing Back Homes (pdf) manual with guidance on how to re-use old and vacant buildings. The manual includes:

  • Technical guidance
  • Information about the relevant regulations
  • Information about grant schemes
  • Examples of properties that have been successfully brought back into use

How do I apply for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant?

Step 1 – Send completed form and supporting documents

Complete the application form and send it to the local authority with your supporting documents.

You will need:

  • Proof that the property is vacant. Utility bills can be used to show that a property has been vacant at a particular time. If you can’t get utility bills for the property, the local authority may accept a signed affidavit stating that the property has been vacant for at least 2 years. Your local authority may also accept other documents that prove the property is vacant. Your local authority checks this paperwork to verify that your documents fully prove that the property has been vacant. In certain cases, the local authority may ask you for more information to ensure they are fully satisfied that the home has been vacant. Contact the Vacant Homes Officer in your local authority for more information on this.
  • Proof that you own the property, or you are trying to buy it.
  • Proof of planning permission, if it is needed.
  • Proof that the property is derelict, if you are applying for the top-up grant. If the property is not already on the Derelict Sites Register, you will need a report from a qualified professional saying the property is derelict.
  • A quote for the work.
  • To sign that you agree to repay the local authority all or part of the grant, if you sell the home within 10 years of getting the grant, or if you rent it out when you had agreed to live there.
  • To sign a declaration saying that the property will meet minimum standards for rental accommodation if you are going to rent it out.
  • A signed affidavit confirming that you haven’t got the grant before to refurbish a property to rent out.

There is a checklist of the supporting documents you will need to send in the application form.

Step 2 – Application reviewed and processed

  • The local authority will review your application and documents. They may ask for further information or documents in certain cases.
  • They will arrange for a qualified person to visit the property to check that it is possible to do the work and to assess the cost.
  • The local authority will send you a ‘letter of approval’ if your application is successful. This letter will tell you how much your grant will be. If you haven’t bought the property yet, you will get a ‘letter of approval in principle’ for the grant. You must sign and return this letter to the local authority, as it forms part of your agreement with the local authority.
  • You have 13 months to complete the works once your application has been approved

Step 3 – Send contractor and payment information

  • Send information about the contractor to the local authority, for example, their tax reference number.
  • Send your bank details to the local authority, so they know where to pay the grant.
  • Send invoices for the completed work to the local authority.
  • Get tax clearance from Revenue if the approved grant is over €10,000.

Step 4 – Work is checked and charge document is signed

The local authority will send someone to your property to check that the work has been completed as described and in-line with the costs.

If the local authority is happy with the work, they will ask you to sign a charge document. The charge document gives the local authority rights over the property as security for the grant. This is to ensure that you meet the requirements of living in the property or renting it out for at least 5 years.

The charge placed on your property lasts for 10 years and is the same as the grant amount you received. The local authority will register this charge against the property with the Land Registry or Registry of Deeds.

Step 5 – Grant is paid

If the local authority is satisfied with the work when they inspect the home and the charge document is signed, the grant will be paid.

If you got the grant to refurbish a home to rent out, the grant will not be paid until you give the local authority evidence that you have registered the tenancy with the RTB.

You will also need to submit proof to your local authority every year that you have registered the tenancy with the RTB annually.

Upcoming review of grant and consideration of staged payments

The grant is currently paid when the work has been completed and checked. This can make financing renovations difficult for some applicants.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is considering introducing staged payments for the grant, so you would get paid some of the grant when different stages of the work were done. This option will be investigated as part of a review of the grant which is happening later in 2024. We will add more information to our page about this option if it becomes available.

If you have questions about the grant, contact the Vacant Homes Officer in your local authority.

What happens if my application is not successful?

If your application is not successful, you can appeal the decision with the local authority. You should write to them within 3 weeks of the decision, giving the reasons why you are appealing.

Your appeal will be reviewed by someone in the local authority who was not involved in assessing your application. The local authority will contact you with the outcome of this review. This can take up to 6 weeks.

What happens if I don't want to live in the property or rent it out?

If you got the grant to refurbish a property to live in and then you decide to sell or rent it out within 10 years of getting the grant, you will have to pay the local authority back. You will have to pay them back for any reason that you are no longer living in the property as your main home within 10 years of getting the grant.

If you got the grant to refurbish a property to rent and you decide to sell the property, or it is no longer available to rent within 10 years of getting the grant, you will also have to pay the local authority back.

The amount you will have to repay depends on how long you’ve lived in the property or rented it out. If you live or rent out your property for:

  • Less than 5 years, you have to repay the full amount
  • Over 5 years but less than 10, you have to repay 75% of the grant
  • More than 10 years, you don’t have to pay back anything

Grant for conservation advice for refurbishing vacant traditional houses

If you have a vacant traditional house and want to apply for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, you can get an additional grant of up to €5,000 for expert conservation advice on how to refurbish it.

With the Conservation Advice Grant Scheme for Vacant Traditional Houses, you can get an experienced conservation expert to:

  • Visit your property
  • Complete a survey of your property
  • Write a report with conservation advice on how best to refurbish it

What buildings qualify for the Conservation Advice Grant Scheme for Vacant Traditional Houses?

The scheme provides grants for 2 types of vacant traditional houses:

  • Vacant traditional houses in towns
  • Vacant traditional farmhouses

To qualify, your property must be either:

  • A vacant traditional house in a village, town or city. The property must be a protected structure or a historic structure in an architectural conservation area. 
  • A vacant traditional farmhouse. It must be a protected structure, a historic farmhouse in an architectural conservation area, or a vernacular farmhouse with no statutory protection. A vernacular farmhouse is a modest house, built using traditional techniques and local materials, such as thatch, stone, slate, earth, wattle and un-sawn timber.

How do I apply for the Conservation Advice Grant Scheme for Vacant Traditional Houses?

Complete the application form (pdf) and email it to conservationadvicegrants@housing.gov.ie. You should send any relevant documents and photographs of the building with your application.

You must apply for the grant for 2024 by 5pm on 31 July 2024. 

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has information about the grant on gov.ie, including:

If you have any questions about the scheme, you should email: conservationadvicegrants@housing.gov.ie.

Page edited: 1 July 2024