Under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 (“the Act”), each local authority is required to compile a vacant sites register of vacant sites zoned for residential or regeneration purposes starting from January 2017.
From January 2019 onwards, a vacant site levy will be charged on such sites.
What constitutes a “Vacant Site” under the Act?
For regeneration land;
A “site” is defined as any area of land exceeding 0.05 hectares but the definition does not include a structure that is a person’s home, a dwelling in which a person ordinarily resides.
Vacant Site Register
Prior to entering a site on the register the planning authority will give written notice to the owner setting out its reasons for the proposed entry.
The owner may make submissions within 28 days of the date of such notice.
The Planning authority must consider submissions made and if it is of the opinion that the site was a vacant site for the duration of 12 months and continues to be a vacant site, it shall be entered on the register.
The Owner of a site entered on the register may appeal against such entry to An Bord Pleanala within 28 days.
Each vacant site will be registered on the relevant local authority's vacant sites register. This list will ensure that all vacant sites are known and will allow for the provision of a baseline for local authorities to take action in terms of levies.
Vacant Site Levy
The vacant site levy will generally be an annual charge of 3% of the market value of each site with reduced levies in certain circumstances.
A levy will be charged in respect of each vacant site registered on the Vacant Site Register and where the market value has been determined.
The levy shall be payable in arrears for each year beginning in 2019 by the owner of the vacant site.
If the levy is not paid within 2 months after the day on which it becomes payable, it shall be recoverable as a simple contract debt in court.
Where the levy is due and owing for over a year, failure to pay the levy will result in a charge on the property until payment is made.
Consequence for a transfer or sale of the property
On the transfer or sale of the vacant site, there will be a requirement for the vendor to furnish a certificate of discharge evidencing payment of the levy for each year that the property was registered as a vacant site. Evidence must also be produced to show that the property was registered as a vacant site.