What to do with Ireland’s 2,846 ghost estates?  Demolish or finish?

What to do with Ireland’s 2,846 ghost estates? Demolish or finish?

What to do with Ireland’s 2,846 ghost estates?A new report commissioned by the Department of the Environment revealed yesterday that there are 2,846 ghost estates in Ireland in which they say, 43,000 houses and apartments are either unfinished or vacant.

The survey found:

  • There are 2,846 ghost estates containing some 43,000 unfinished or empty units
  • 23,000 units are completed but unoccupied
  • A further 20,000 are at various stages of completion
  • 8,000 houses have permission but have not been built (why do we want to build more?)

During the boom times when the Tiger was around developers got almost €870m in tax breaks to build thousands of houses that are now lying idle and the Government admitted there was now no money to finish off these so called Ghost Estates. However, Minister of State for Housing Michael Finneran and Minister for Planning Ciarán Cuffe announced yesterday the establishment of a “high-level expert group” to devise plans for the “completion or resolution” of 2,800 estates but it may take years before communities see any significant improvement of these eyesores.

Have your say:

  • What to do with Ireland’s 2,846 ghost estates? Demolish them or finish them?
  • Who is going to occupy / buy them?
There are 59 comments for this article
  1. Sam at 10:13 pm

    I believe, we are faced with three options:
    We can do nothing except look after the banks—letting unoccupied houses slowly rot—the downward spiral could last another fifty years.
    We can, as I am sure some are striving for, let the NAMA assets be sold off at knock down prices, then engineer another mini boom by demolishing as much as possible. Then a new golden circle can quietly walk away with all the profit. It’s a tried and tested method that has worked before in Ireland.
    Or we can use some NAMA property to provide affordable housing for our young, as one step in a plan to reverse the downward spiral.

  2. Robert Byrne at 5:10 pm

    Sell at a nominal price or give with certain criteria to needy families or individuals who cannot afford the normal route to owning their own homes, obviously with a provisio to finish the building work and work out something to finish landscaping also with perhaps a minimun period of owner occupier of several years to rule out speculators buying them.Rob-B

  3. Walter McCabe at 9:46 am

    Make the original developers demolish them all and restore the countryside to better than the condition they abused it from. Give the materials to people who are trying to DIY their own homes.

  4. Jacqueline O’Mahony at 7:38 pm

    For Heavens sake what is this Government doing? I recently returned to Ireland and have been looking to buy a well-insulated and well-constructed 3-bedroomed house in Kerry.If these houses are well-built,then why not advertise them, with as much publicity as the “Ghost Estates” are getting, guarantee their finish date and sell them at today’s market price?

  5. barry at 6:14 pm

    Rent them at low cost to families with a proportion of the cost going to to the overall purchase of the house.It’s time Ireland ‘thought big’ and it encouraged European’s of different nationality’s to live here.It’s time to diversify and export our Irish culture,game’s and custom’s into Europe.It’s TIME Ireland achieved in Europe and our people went after the big jobs and put away the political cronyism that has stifled and damaged our economy and culture.

  6. Bob at 4:56 pm

    Finnish suitable estates to create secure gated areas for the elderly and/or disabled with on site 24hr care. Good for those that want to see out their days amongst a community of peers without fear and good for the local economy. As for the rest fire sale them.

  7. Tania at 4:35 pm

    I LOVE the idea of rent-to-own, particularly for single mothers (especially since I am one!).

    But– another suggestion would be to use them for children. I read so many horror stories about the older children who are wards of the state being placed in hostels instead of homes, and end up beaten, killed, stolen, etc.

    It would be ideal to begin a program to place a couple of adults in the home as care-takers for the kids. Maybe wave rent in lieu of fosterage?
    Or something along those lines.

    Otherwise, I’ve also heard ideas about turning these neighborhoods into small Gaeltachts. I’m a big fan of that as well. 🙂

    And I have to comment on all the ridiculous comments on how allowing low-income families to live in these homes would turn them into a “ghetto.” “Ghetto’s” are created by the INDIVIDUAL MENTALITIES, and NOT by their INCOMES.

    I am certainly a ‘low-income family’ (single mother, still attending college and only able to work part time). BUT, I am a Harvard student, intelligent and considerate enough, I’d think, and very particular about maintaining my home in a neat and tidy (and well groomed, even if I do say so myself) manner.

    And I know that I can’t be an exception.

    There wasn’t always a Celtic Tiger. Just because we all weren’t wealthy as kids, did we live in hovels? Were all our neighborhoods “Ghetto’s”?

  8. AV Watt at 11:28 am

    The houses should be sold to anyone who will promise to 100% complete the house and grounds, and occupy within two years. A bond to cover the cost of demolition must be purchased by the buyer, this will cover the cost of returning any houses not completed in the required two years to green field conditions.

    There should be no burden on the taxpayer via grand but expensive social housing ideas.

  9. Leesome at 10:26 pm

    Houses should be finished and property of the state.

    Off topic.

    When a piece of land miles from any town is without interest and overpriced fit only for animals. Should vacant lands have planning permission revoked enable land be valued once again as farm land?

  10. Proinsias at 11:26 am

    The houses should be sold off for any offer that is recieved for them, like that some money is recouped for the tax payer and people that cannot afford a home at the current housing prices may eventually purchase a home.

  11. SMurphy at 7:18 am

    Demolish them, they look a sight and most of them are an eye sore here as they are been left and not being taken care off. At least if they are torn down it will help retore supply and demand in this country and for the poor people who have got on the property ladder in the last few years and are struggling with negative equity it will help elivate this problem quicker.

  12. Inguna Brazil at 9:46 pm

    In latvian we have an aforism- be smart= keep wolf fed and sheep alive- What i ment , we have to go for reasonable setlements. Offer people to buy for discounted prices unfinished units, rent uot as alternative accomodation for low prices to people and families ,who are waiting for council houses, rent out with option to buy it out in25-30 years( lease option) Ingeneral, get rid of greed and to make a small profit, but regular profit, instead aiming for high profits and gain nothing, hoping get big, big money!!!

  13. Mename at 7:58 pm

    Giving these houses to only the homeless would only create a ghetto! People might mean well saying lets home the homeless but all this would do is create a pocket housing estate for people with mental, drug, drink, sexual issues. Most homeless people are without a home through their habits be it drink, drugs, whatever, or family issues. Putting all these people with problems into the one housing estate makes no sense whatsoever. Every community needs to have a balance of people living there to make it successful

  14. lorraine carroll at 5:35 pm

    i totally agree with the comments left on here i think they should be given not only to single parents but low income earners who just want somewhere to call their own, they should pay a reduced rent and have a chance to buy the property down the line.it is such a waste to have houses lying vacant and people in desperate need of affordable housing, dont tell me that there is not electricians builders and the like out of work that would not give up there time to help finish off these houses.

  15. Peter mc at 4:23 pm

    suggest they are finished out or converted into small business units that can be taken on free by individuals or small companies that can provide a business plan. the plan would need to be verified prior to allocation of the unit.

    This is a potential way of innovating out of a recession as it provides employment, tax revenue for the government and solves the issue of empty and half finished estates

  16. Poppi von Luncoshire at 10:42 am

    Make the corrupt Fianna Fail gangsters eat them brick by brick.

  17. Dave B at 9:24 am

    Sell all the houses at a cheap price which is representative to the level of completion. Then appoint a builder, the builder will finish off the houses and the owners will pay for the completion. This will boost the construction industry again, get people into houses, home owners/ investors will get a good deal if the price is right, etc.

  18. nameless at 1:42 am

    ahh god why oh why do women post stupid comments like “give them to unmarried mothers” on here it makes me cringe.
    im a young single women who spent 3 years saving my ass off to get a house of my own last year and now everyone wants to bloody give these houses away which will only mean one thing -that house prices will decrease even more making the problem worse !

    Use them as cheap rentables for people who are proven to be good savers so they can get on the housing market or for people who do 30hrs a wk or more volunteering in their community to help under resourced areas ie schools, old peoples homes

  19. dolores Nielsen at 1:18 am

    ALL homeless irish born people should be housed immediately…Its a disgrace that Immigrants are housed here while our own People are left homeless !!!!!!!

  20. Séamus Bourke at 11:09 pm

    No.1 Change Government.
    No.2 Begin Dáil debate.
    No.3 Initiate legislation to put debated outcome into effect. Hopefully built houses will be retained in all areas for various reasons. These may be, to house the homeless, to abolish County Council housing lists,assist struggling home owners and provide social housing. Also in the current climate many first time buyers will require a “leg up”. Just some of my ideas.
    Séamus Bourke.

  21. Patti M at 9:57 pm

    I have at least one theory on why properties are not selling. I wrote to iehome about a listing on your website oh I dunno, about five months ago, and I am still waiting for a reply. I have actually inquired twice since and never received the courtesy of a reply regarding a place in Cork I am interested in. So perhaps instead of spamming me with stories about the real estate world’s issues, maybe you shoud put some energy toward basic hard work of responding to potential buyers. That isn’t exactly magic, but it isn’t as glamorous as theorizing maybe. In any case you don’t have a sell and I don’t have a hosue I want. Just brilliant.

  22. Martin kelly at 8:57 pm

    Raise the money by reducing social welfare fraud . Train those on the dole to learn a trade by working on these schemes to earn their dole money.Allocate a portion to some of the homeless who have undertaken drug treatment etc to help them back into society.Do not favour one section of the community ie unmarried mothers over married people as this is discrimination and will xontinue to undermine marriage and promote social welfare abuse as is happening now.auction the remainder to everyone without favor as the ordinary working famillies not on the dole or receiving rent allowance /electricity payments etc,are the true new poor in Ireland and have no free money to fall back on.

  23. Tony at 8:52 pm

    Demolish the unfinished ones and landscape the land to a safe condition for the remaining occupants of the estates. Currently they are an eyesore & hazard to children. Auction finished properties or lease with option to buy.

  24. n harrington at 8:31 pm

    ghost estates should be given to people with no houses
    eg.homeless and people on council waiting lists.

  25. Mise at 8:30 pm

    I’d go with 32 & lock up all the members of the Dail, only I would go further & shoot at their feet if any should try to escape. Seriously though:- reading through all the comments. I agree with No: 24 by Winter. Selling at auction to the highest bidder etc is the best idea. There are many young and not so young out there who would love to own their own home but cannot afford it. Demolishing is definitely not the answer although I’m sure whatever the government decide they will do anyway regardless what the people of Ireland think, just like the plan to build the childrens hospital right smack in the centre of Dublin City. We elected them & now we are all paying through the nose for our stupidity.

  26. peadar at 7:24 pm

    It crossed my mind – could we fence off a ghost estate and put all the politicians and bankers in it behind an electric fence with some guards in watch towers [on a ce scheme3] to ensure they stayed there. There could be a special high security section for cronies and converted cupboards for the odd ex taoiseach.

  27. ann kennedy at 7:11 pm

    Many many construction workers are on dole or self employed and not entitled to dole support.
    connect with these builders, brick layers, craft persons etc, form a collective, allowing these workers within a certain area of a ghost town to complete the work and when its done, offer in return payment via the sale or rent of these.
    who can provide the materials etc is anyone’s guess, maybe the financial institutions who put us in this mess, they too can get a cut, but never be allowed to own outright these developments.
    ear mark so many houses for less able, disabled and unemployed and even reconstruct some homes for those with mobility problems, as these are BADLY needed.
    the idea may be right, funding is, well not my forte.

  28. bob sheeran at 5:27 pm

    Please give me a house as i have been homeless for last 15years as a result of corrupt builders.thank you

  29. dave nelson at 4:31 pm

    Having read through all the comments the most realistic is the post number 24 by Winter.
    It could really be the way forward

  30. Aido Kelly at 4:25 pm

    Complete these houses and each council within these areas were these are located .. house from the waiting lists of young people trying to get into the property market give them the chance we had when times were good .DO NOT USE THESE TO HOUSES FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME SICK OF IRELAND BEEN A SOFT TOUCH .

  31. francis at 4:09 pm

    Those houses are now indirectly owned by the tax payers. The money used for starting these projects were borrowed from the banks and various tax incentives given to developers. The banks were bailed out by the tax payers;
    These houses should not be demolished. It will be another economic waste to do so.
    Councils/governments should take over these houses complete them and sale them at affordable prices or give houses to the homeless.
    Many are homeless; think of the less privileged, this is a civilized society for Gods sake. This is an opportunity for the homeless to have a home. Give them a chance. Don’t demolish.
    It is not all about money.

  32. mick at 4:06 pm

    As in all markets there is a price for everything.Offer for sale at auction. Many a parent,grandparent would invest in their family”s future.
    Turn was is currently a lose/lose into a win /lose.

  33. Ann Sharkey at 3:31 pm

    These ghost estates should be knocked as they are an eye-sore to those of us who paid big money for ours and we dont have street lighting as the estate is not yet finished.

  34. AB at 3:27 pm

    Allow charities like Focus Ireland take finished units into their stock to wipe out Homelessness.
    County Councils could take over the estates and use them for Affordable Housing schemes at drastically reduced prices.
    Establish an Agency to use these properties to house those in threat of repossession – make people commit to buying these ala Affordable Housing schemes and use their re-possessed houses to pay for the scheme.
    There’s loads could be done, but the Dept of Environment are too set in their ways and too intent on hiding behind the reality of what could be acheived.

    Otherwise – FIRESALE and get property prices right down to where they should be and then allow the market to recover slowly – at the moment it is still slowly dying!

  35. Winter at 3:25 pm

    They should be sold as they are to the highest bidder at auction but with one stipulation: 2 years to build on it and complete the house or you lose possession of it. Might only get a couple of grand per site but the country is still full of working people who would love to own their own home but are waiting for the bottom of the market or they simply can’t afford a home at today’s prices. With realistic site costs and an abundance of qualified but unemployed construction workers, it would be no time before these ghost estates are full of happy families with affordable homes. It could even kick start the economy again, particularly at local level as these ghost estates are spread out around the country. The negative effect this would have of pulling house prices down only speeds up the inevitable descent to the very bottom but I think it’s better to get there as fast as possible with as little cost. Empty ghost estates are not prolonging the recession, indecisiveness is.

  36. SHalpin at 3:24 pm

    I don’t think they should ‘give’ these houses to anyone. This just encourages a welfare state, people who choose not to work shouldn’g be given a house. Also you can’t expect to clear the housing lists as many will not want to live where these estates are located, they might not have transport and can’t be expected to get by in a ‘ghost estate’ with unfinished facilites, no amenities or infrastructure and miles from any town. Demolish them as too much of a surplus will further damage the housing market, but keep the odd one that is viable. How about giving people who have already paid an extortionate amount of money and live in unfinished estates the option to move to somewhere they may like better. Consolidate and create communities of people who want to be there and bulldoze the rest.

  37. Doug Ruddy at 3:24 pm

    Let Low income,single parents , rent to buy these propertys and in return work in the local towns where they live.You could sell these propertys at such a low price just to get it all over with, so the market can get back on track. The other idea is give Irish citizens liveing in other countrys the chance to invest in Ireland, anything is better than just not finishing the work ?.

  38. shane at 3:18 pm

    Have a fire sale would bring in lots of investment into the country the same way the states benefited from foreign investment in there property market.

  39. james at 3:15 pm

    I would invite some of the UK’s immigrants over and house them in the finished ones, then turn the unfinished ones into Mosques etc..

  40. james at 3:13 pm

    I’d say , load up the wood shed, and settle down for an interesting winter.. but take your money out of the bank!
    We were really looking forward to retiring to S Ireland but the bank Bailout by the crazed government put a stop to that!!

  41. Tomasz at 3:11 pm

    Give thouse houses for free 🙂

  42. Pol Wheelock Mulcahy at Skibereen at 3:06 pm

    Establish a tax applied to banks for the completion costs of these units.

    Employee the skilled unemployed to complete the work.

    Offer every Magdalene Laundry victim a free unit, based on family size and bill the C Church as a penalty to that institution.

    Furnish one major unit in each development to area councils for the promotion of craft centers where cottage industry might prosper.

    Establish community health centers in one street level unit at most developing sites, including potential day care services.

    Conduct an auction for lease with option to buy focusing on certain income groups requiring banks and developers to furnish low interest loans absent of any profit.

    Offer one unit as a hostel in each development.

    Establish housing Co-operatives as much as possible.

    Offer small businesses opportunities for shops in street level units as much as possible with low rents for a period of time.

    Make one unit a non-denominational church in some developments requiring the C Church to pay lease fees.

    Utilize one development for the Irish military as barracks and administrative center.

  43. boardsiebob at 2:59 pm

    Ok, how’s this for one? The government seeks a deal with private foreign companies that want to set up shop in Ireland. Foreign companies already get good tax breaks in this country so why not give them extra incentive and allow their workers to live in these estates. Strategically placed company offices within commuting distance from estates. Some scheme so that companies are either buying or leasing the houses, to get money in to finish them and at the same time occupy them. I’ll tell you. It will work.

  44. marie at 2:44 pm

    I live in an area where a new estate is just being built, proposed 200 new homes! The estate I am living in (5 minutes away from the new site) has at least 20 empty homes, half of which are very incomplete. Dishonest and crooked building contractor was at fault for that. He’s now off somewhere else ripping other people off under a different company name.
    I agree that unfinished homes should be valuated for their actual value and sold off cheap to people who are willing to complete them themselves. At least they would have some return and in turn it would generate some employment in the building trade. I think the problem has also become that a lot of these houses also no longer belong to the contractors who originally built them, but to the company who took on their debt.

  45. Maria O Beirne at 2:44 pm

    I think they government should take over these estates. They have already paid the banks well for them
    All homeless people should be housed as a priority.
    Everyone one the housing list ahould be offered a home at a reasonable rent that they would eventually own.

    Finishing the estates would help those builders on the dole.
    It could be a win win situation.

  46. gussieg at 2:40 pm

    definitely a system of restoration and recovery is preferable to one of yet more loss and destruction, and yes there are plenty of people who would be willing to take on living in a half finished estate rather than face the cold streets or dingy bedsits which are sadly still around and charging through the nose. Once people are occupying an estate then surely bringing in the infrastructure they said was missing , bus routes, trains , schools , etc would be easier to get in motion once they were already there. Be tough to start with though.

  47. Audrey at 2:36 pm

    Demolish all the half built houses and apartments and use the finished ones for the social housing scheme and some for the homeless people too.

  48. Colm at 2:35 pm

    With the London olympics coming up in 2012 how about kitting some of these estates out with training facilities and market them to the competing organisations as a pre-olympics training camp.

  49. Raul at 2:27 pm

    Why give them to just ‘unmarried mothers’. What about ‘unmarried fathers’? What a ridiculuos idea, creating sexism, in this day and age. As an recent unemployed man, I am willing to put my savings towards buying a new house, but at a price I can afford to pay. The government should give the houses to those of us who can prove how intelligent we were by saving, etc. in the good times for times like this, not those who think they deserve it just because they are women, pregnant, unemployed, etc.

  50. Emma at 2:26 pm

    Focus on the estates that have most houses nearing completion.
    Incent builders to finish them.
    Move familes from houses in disaster estates within a 20km into those ones
    Raze the disaster estates
    Never let it happen again

    I never understood the fascination with new houses and wanting to live in estates in the first place. They’re completely artifical housing environments designed by developers to maximise number of units on their plot of land that they own. Usually a car drive from villages and shops.

  51. Mr Walsh at 2:24 pm

    We should put an estimate on the cost of completing the estate, with a high/low figure. The houses should then be offered for sale based on the actual cost but limited to the high figure.

    This will help generate employment within the country, plus it will generate cheaper houses and therby reduce the cost of doing business and the cost of accomodation for tourists.

    While NAMA will keep houses artificially high for a few years this will help bring the market back to reality.

  52. Noel Kelleher at 2:13 pm

    1) Home the Homeless. It is a disgrace that in 2010 we still have so many people living on the streets.
    2) Provide affordable housing to low income families.
    3) Create a back to work scheme for builders and trades men currently on social welfare. Allow them to work on finishing these estates as part of their social welfare payments.

  53. Gareth Egan at 2:11 pm

    why not offer these ghost estates to the people who got there houses taken off them by the bank at a reduced price.

    or offer them as Home Choice Loan house, the government part owns them ….

  54. SKenny at 2:09 pm

    Properties should be sold at a deflated price and then finished by an elected builder or contractor to a point where they are safe for the owners to complete the internal finishes themselves. It would cost more to demolish and make the land safe than to finish them to a habitable state. (for the most part I’d assume)

  55. mary nolan at 2:08 pm

    Abolish the tribunals and ALL Dáil expenses, cut TDs’ and Senators’ wages by a minimum of 30% and use the funds to finish the viable ghost estates for people on the housing lists and demolish estates that are out in the far sticks and will never be occupied: result – some of the unemployed builders will have work, thus generating income tax revenue and local authorities will save on Rent Allowance. Very simple but, in the words of Sir Humphrey Appleby, “courageous”, so no one will have the liathroidí to implement a course such as this.

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  57. joyce joyce at 2:05 pm

    It would be too expensive to demolish them, far better to put the money which demolition would cost to finishing the estates which have the best chance of occupancy.

    The houses could be rented/leased/sold to people on housing lists, first time home buyers and/or investors.

    The remaining estates in unpopular areas could be boarded up until such time as the economy stabilises and recovers.

    Recession and boom times are cyclical.

  58. sinead keegan at 1:55 pm

    They should be demolished and the ones that are completed should be sold off at a reasonable price, builders and bankers need I say more

  59. Patricia gottmann at 1:50 pm

    Why don’t the Government give the houses to the Unmarried mothers,

    Charge them a small rent, allowing them to buy.

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