Massive housing oversupply must be tackled

The massive oversupply of homes in Co Leitrim must be tackled before it becomes a major health and safety issue for communities.

The massive oversupply of homes in Co Leitrim must be tackled before it becomes a major health and safety issue for communities.

Co Leitrim has a oversupply in the excess of 50 percent according to Fine Gael Councillor, John McCartin. Referring to figures collected by the CSO in Census 2011 as well as figures collected in a ghost estate survey by the Government last year, Cllr McCartin said he believed that there had been a massive under-estimation of the number of unoccupied homes in Co Leitrim.

“It was only two and a half years ago that Leitrim County Coucnil was insisting that the oversupply of houses in the county was in the region of 700 but the reality is these figures are much higher than that,” he insisted.

“In my village alone there are 13 occupied homes and a further 30 which are unfinished or unoccupied. The Census 2011 figures released by the CSO this month has suggested a vacancy rate of 30.4 percent for Co Leitrim and even when you take into account the fact that some of these homes are holiday houses, you are still left with a very large percentage of homes in the county which aren’t utilised and will not be utilised.”

He was critical of previous studies into unoccupied housing estates noting that even the Department’s study of Ghost Estates in 2011 had given a false impression of the actual extent of the problem.

“I know for a fact that survey staff looked into homes and if they saw a degree of furniture or if the blinds were drawn, the house was marked as occupied when the reality was that many of these homes were empty. The survey should have established what homes were actually lived in. The presence of furniture doesn’t mean a house is actually occupied,” he said.

The Fine Gael Councillor said it was crucial that steps be taken, not just in Co Leitrim, but nationwide, to establish just what percentage of the housing stock available was actually needed to fulfil future growth predictions.

“We are definitely in a situation now where we have an oversupply and if homes are not needed, if there is no expected need for housing in that area to develop over the next few years, then we have to look at disposing of property and by that I mean we have to start knocking unoccupied and unfinished homes,” he insisted.

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.