Here to haunt: Is there a solution to Ireland’s Ghost Estates?

Here to haunt: Is there a solution to Ireland’s Ghost Estates?

Here to haunt: Is there a solution to Ireland’s Ghost Estates?A report published today by The Advisory Group on Unfinished Housing Developments has identified a total of 348 of the 2,846 ghost estates nationwide as having high public safety risks saying that the estates need to be dealt with as a priority as there are large numbers of vacant and partially completed structures in developments where people are living.

In response, Minister for Housing and Local Services, Mr. Michael Finneran who is to step down at the next election has made €5million in funding available to carry out safety improvements. The money, the Minister said, is not intended for the completion of developments but to address immediately the most pressing problems, such as open excavations, unprotected upper floor levels in half-built housing, or uncovered manholes. In “extreme cases” it may be necessary for a local authority to compulsorily acquire all or parts of the estate under the Derelict Sites Act, which could result in some demolition.

While this is good news for some, many taxpayers are angry that they will now have to pay for the clean up left behind by some developers. During the boom time developers got almost €870m in tax breaks to build thousands of houses that are not only lying idle but are now a huge safety hazard. Instead of the clean up operation or demolition, punters have suggested that the unfinished “ghost estate” 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.

Have Your Say:

  • Here to haunt: Is there a solution to Ireland’s Ghost Estates?
  • Should we demolish, finish or sell them off?
There are 13 comments for this article
  1. valerie drea at 9:32 pm

    Finish off the estates and charge the developers and anyone else who made money out of this shambles…. MAKE THEM PAY…. There are people waiting to go back to ireland so the council could take over the properties and charge a rent as long the returnies are not penalised because they had to leave ireland in the first place, just like the youth of today many thousands were forced to leave their families to look for work. The older Irish are not imigrants they just want to come home regardless of the climate.

  2. Gaston at 1:49 pm

    Yet, social housing lists are at an all time high throughout the country… Why don’t they THINK!!!
    It seems many property owners are lobbying legislators not to do anything about it. I spend €700 per month for a very antiquated cold house in Cork which goes straight into a landlord’s pocket. I’d much rather pay the same to the state. Also the state could recoup money from landlords as I believe that half the country is on rent allowance right now. THIS COUNTRY SUFFERS FROM PASSIVE MANAGEMENT/GOVERMENT.

  3. Rachel at 4:28 pm

    The problem with demolishing the sites is that will also cost money – why should the Irish tax payer pay for these sites to be demolished. There is money out there on the foreign markets, the sites should be sold off cheaply to foreign developers who can finish or demolish the sites at their expense. The people who are already living on the sites would then have an option to stay on in the completed sites or sell their home to the developers and get out of the ghost estates.

  4. Martin at 2:52 pm

    The ones which are most near completion should be finished and given to taxpayers who aren’t already homeowners. Many of us already paid (and will continue to pay) for these houses through bank bailouts and tax hikes directly related to the property market. At least some of us should get something out of it.
    ONLY those which are very badly damaged or barely started should be demolished. We paid to build them, seems crazy to pay for their demolition too.

  5. Colm at 1:41 pm

    It’s not an easy one size fits all solution. It will require many solutions depending on the state of completion, location and occupancy rate of the estates. Some obvious ones are:

    1. Certainly many will have to just be knocked. If there are no residents and most of the estate is unfinished and it is in the middle of nowhere just knock it and move on. Many of the 350 announced today may fall into this category. We need to be swift and ruthless on these. They are an eyesore, they are dangerous and they are artificially inflating the housing stock keeping the market depressed. Many of these cannot be restored to a habitable condition. They should be knocked within 6 months and the area returned to a green space.

    2. If estates are largely finished but there are no occupants and it’s in an area with tourist potential then I would look at holiday villages for Tourists or retreats for artists or something. Basically get them finished and then lease them to companies to run these options for say 10 years.

    That way they are occupied and after 10 years they could either be bought outright by the company or returned to state ownership when hopefully they can be returned to a recovered property market as second hand homes in reasonably good condition. There may not be many of these but it must be an option for some of the 2000+ unfinished estates.

    3. At the moment we have “regeneration” schemes pumping billions into knocking old houses in Limerick and parts of Dublin and building new houses on the same site. That’s insane.

    We should immediately stop all work on regeneration schemes and instead finish out the ghost estates. Even if they are half built there have to be huge savings in not having to start from scratch. Just bulldoze the old estates like Moyross and Southhill and relocate the residents to a new former “Ghost” estate within say a 30 mile radius (that would be Limerick City, Limerick County, East Clare, North Cork, West Tipperary). If the relocation residents don’t want to move to the nice new house we are giving them then they can opt out of the state housing system and buy/build their own house. If you are getting it for free you go where we tell you to go.

    4. Where the housing estate is largely occupied with new segment unfinished then convert some of the unfinished houses in the estate into a community centre, a shop, a creche, a surgery etc. Knock any ones that can’t be converted and return it to green areas for football, tennis, skating etc. Again one or two houses on the edge of this area could be saved and used as changing facilities for the sports facilities.

    5. Where a housing estate is virtually complete but one or two houses are not sold and causing an eye sore then make it a legal requirement for the builder (or bank if the builder has gone bust) to landscape outside the house and maintain it to a reasonable standard until the house can be sold. The more they have to pay to maintain it the more they will drop the price until someone picks up a bargain.

    6. Immediately revoke planning permission for any areas of ghost estates not yet started (e.g. “phase 2” in the next field). That way we are getting these houses that exist on paper only off the system and off the housing stock metrics.

    7. I would put a 5 year ban on planning permission for one off houses within a 15 mile radius of a ghost estate that is too far advanced to be knocked and too far from a regeneration and too . People will hate the idea and say it’s their right to build a bungalow for their son/daughter on their farm but hard times call for hard measures. We have too many houses we aren’t allowing any more to be built. The state should finish the houses off and then control the market so that locals have no choice but to buy one of those houses. We could offer them at greatly reduced prices to soften the blow.

  6. Valerie at 1:36 pm

    I think its wasteful to demolish work already started. They should be sold off to the housing authorities or likeminded housing associations at a fair price in todays market. This will go some way to provide employment for the occupations associated and at the same time help with the rental housing shortage. No point crying over spilt milk. The builders have taken a hit and the taxpayer has been compensating the banks – the ratepayer/taxpayer should now recover some benefit. The rents on these properties should be same as corporation rents etc….
    There will be someone to pay to demolish them – better spend the money to finish them…

  7. Alec at 1:21 pm

    well to start with the developers should not get a cent if they are sold off or fork up for the bill if they are to be demolished. The problem with demolishing is that how many of them have people living in parts of them? I believe they should be finished off where possible and sold off with the money going to help this country and not the f****rs that helped get us into this s**t in the first place. I also believe any developer of these estates who is in debt should be locked up ( along with the corrupt politicians. 1 example: the one’s claiming false travel exspenses like the euro mp’s flying to brussel’s signing in at the office and flying striaght back home and getting over 300 euro for travelling for work yet they dont do anything. like most Politicians, more should be called criminals, thieves, SCUM, take your pick!) the same as the common people who are being locked for not paying a tv license which is just 1 sign of the CORRUPTION in this country at the highest level. One rule for some and another for the common person. If they keep treating the common person as bad as we are now there is going to be an eventual backlash like they have never seen before!!! and I can tell you now I cant take much more personally and im not alone.

  8. OASIS Rainwater Harvesting Systems at 1:06 pm

    The houses should be demolished. Selling them off at a cheap price, or finishing them will only serve to further reduce the price of houses that are already on the market and plunge more people into negative equity.

  9. Joanne at 12:56 pm

    I think all the buliders, painters, plumbers etc who are on the dole should be offered jobs, even at a lower rate of pay, mostly man, whos self-esstem would be very low at the minute would be willing to go back to work at a lower rate, all the unemployment in the country, I’m sure something could be done

  10. Brigid at 12:53 pm

    I am delighted to hear that someone is interested in fixing up the ghost estates that litter our country.

    I live in an ghost estate but open man holes and half built homes are not our issues. Our estate looks finished from the outside. We have sewage problems, render falling of our walls,dampness seeping through the many cracks in our render, a builder gone bust who owes Anglo a fortune – but as long as they get their money back it doesn’t matter about us who are left with incomplete homes.

    How can it be that our mortgage are going to held against us for 30 – 40 years when some of the homes in the estate really should not be lived in? And also paying for a HOME that we are not certain will last as long as our mortgages.

    What will happen to us and our estate is now resting in the hands of legal teams and property guru’s who will only do so much before they need paying. In today’s day who has the money to fight local authorities, engineers, etc etc??

  11. Stephen at 12:50 pm

    Ideally most of the ghost estates will be finished off and sold at attractive prices to get them occupied. However the fact of the matter is that many of the ghost estates have been built in places where sufficient numbers of people just do not want to live. Ghost estates that are too far from towns and services should be demolished immediately and the rest finished and sold to the highest bidder. Buyers should be restricted to owner occupiers if possible.

  12. Breda Kavanagh at 12:32 pm

    i believe they should demolish the sites and the properties that are half finished. all propeties that are incomplete and have being standing idle for the past 12 months should be taken down and the ‘ghost’estates completed by the council.

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