Action for Housing has put a spotlight on “shocking, if not entirely surprising” findings in the Principal Auditor’s latest report shedding light on government rental housing stock.
The report said that as of January 5, 2021, there were 272 dwellings which were not being used for allocation, of which only 63 were beyond economic repair.
The report found too that the average time to reallocate properties was five and a half years.
Against the backdrop of a “severe shortage” of government rental housing, Action for Housing said the timeline for reallocating properties was “staggering and unacceptable”.
In a statement, the group said the findings warranted further information from the Government.
“Firstly, we need to know if the situation has improved since January 2021 and whether the number of empty dwellings has been reduced and if so by how many,” Action for Housing said.
“The Government must also clarify whether the time taken to reallocate vacant premises has been reduced and if so by how much time on average.”
“It would also be of interest to know why there has been such neglect and inordinate delays in reallocating vacant dwellings.”
“It could also be the case that some, if not all of those 63 dwellings, which are now beyond economic repair might have been recoverable if they had not been neglected for so long, a fate that can affect others if left vacant for long periods of time.”
“The Government must also stipulate what they intend to do to avoid such a repetition.”
The statement added: “Government must now take urgent and imaginative steps to make good use of all empty Government properties, some of which can be incorporated into the existing housing stock.”
“Others can be released as part of the self-help housing scheme the Minister for Housing told us about when the group met with her recently, although no mention was made on these worrying figures.”
“We look forward to the comments from the Minister Pat Orfila, or the ministry, in reply to the Principal Auditor's report on housing.”