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Vacant & Derelict Homes - A Buying Guide

In the 2022 census, 166,752 properties were recorded as vacant in Ireland. This represents a fall of 9% from 2016. In recent times, we have seen increased pressure put on the government from various lobby groups and social media commentary to work on freeing up vacant and derelict homes around the country. This is in response to the lack of supply of property on the rental and residential sales market.

Table 4.1 Housing Stock, 2011-2022

State Totals 2011 2016 2022 Actual Change
2016 - 2022
% Change
2016 - 2022
Housing stock 1,994,845 2,003,645 2,124,590 120,945 6
Occupied households 1,660,111 1,707,453 1,858,526 151,073 9
Temporarily absent 45,283 50,732 33,177 -17,555 -35
Unoccupied holiday homes 59,395 62,148 66,135 3,987 6
Vaccant dwellings 230,056 183,312 166,752 -16,560 -9

Housing stock, 2011-2022 - Source: CSO


So with this amount of vacant housing stock in Ireland, is buying a vacant property a good idea?

Buying a vacant house - what should you look out for?

When purchasing any property, you need to carry out a lot of your own due diligence. The bulk of property for sale in Ireland is via private treaty sales although some property is for sale via auction. You can read about the crucial differences in our guide “ Private Treaty Sales Versus Auction”.

With a vacant or derelict property, the main concern you will likely have is renovation costs. With general private treaty sales, a property survey carried out by an engineer is common but it is not compulsory and some purchasers choose to bypass it especially if the property was quite new. However, with an older property and especially one that is vacant or derelict, a survey carried out by a structural engineer would be very much advisable in order to understand what costs you’re likely to incur when renovation begins.


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Is there a grant for doing up old houses in Ireland?

Under the Croí Cónaithe fund which is under the overall Housing For All government scheme umbrella, there is a Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant. This grant is available for the purposes of doing up old houses in Ireland. In 2022, the grant was extended to include all relevant properties in cities, towns and rural Ireland. Previously it was limited to exclude city properties. The grant was further extended in May 2023 and revised to be more inclusive. A grant of up to €50,000 is available for renovation of vacant properties.

Eligibility Guidelines for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant(*Updated of April 2023)

  • Proof of ownership or evidence of active negotiations to buy the property (you can ask the sales negotiator selling the property you’re bidding on for this)
  • You can choose to live in the property as your principal private residence or you can make it available for rent
  • Proof that the property has been vacant for at least two years (signed affidavit from seller’s solicitor or electricity bills showing no use would be acceptable)
  • Property must have been constructed prior to 2007
  • You must not have already got funding under the grant

While at first glance, a property you are interested in might tick the boxes of eligibility for this grant, you will have to go through an application process involving submission of various documents before receiving news of grant approval. Supplemental documentation when applying for the grant (for both vacant properties and derelict properties) include quotation(s) of the proposed works and in relation to derelict properties, an independent report confirming it is structurally unsound and dangerous. Other requests for information / documents can also be made such as proof that the property was vacant.

What grants are available for derelict houses?

A grant of a maximum of €70,000 (inclusive of VAT) is available for properties that are deemed derelict. This is under the Croí Cónaithe fund as part of the government’s Housing for All drive.



Do you need planning permission to renovate a derelict house?

It’s advisable to get professional advice if you have concerns about planning permission for plans you might have for a derelict property. Planning permission laws in Ireland are generally quite strict so the best advice is to approach your local authority. We also have a guide on the overall topic of planning permission in Ireland that might be helpful.

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