Property Clinic: Your property questions and queries answered
Each local authority is responsible for dealing with derelict sites in its area and must keep a register of them
We live in a small terraced house on a quiet road. For the past 10 years or so the adjoining house has been derelict. We suspect the owner may be in a home and unable to maintain it. It was up for sale a number of years back but never sold, and despite us contacting the estate agent to contact the present owner nothing has been forthcoming.
I have been forced to paint the front of the property at my own expense as it became a real eyesore. I also cut the front garden and keep it tidy.The rear garden is overgrown, and is now attracting rats. Also, as the rear access has now become exposed we are worried it may attract squatters.
I contacted the local council but it maintains there is nothing it can do as it is a private property. What are my options?
Each local authority is responsible for dealing with derelict sites in its area and must keep a register of them. The property you describe does appear to come within the definition of a derelict site under section 3 of the Act. The local authority has a right to ultimately force private owners to sell derelict sites to it, and although these powers were very rarely executed in the past this does seem to be changing due to the current housing crisis.
In addition, the Repair and Leasing Scheme is now in place. This is part of Rebuilding Ireland, and its purpose is to help property owners to bring vacant properties into use. The scheme pays for repairs upfront in return for the property being leased to a local authority or approved housing body to be used as social housing for a period of at least 10 years. However, this scheme is only available to property owners, and I do appreciate you have no contact with the owner in order to encourage them to avail of the scheme.
I would recommend that you contact your local authority to ask it to deal with the matter as the property is a derelict site. You may be able to contact your local councillors in this regard to see if they might be able to assist.
In relation to the rat issue, the environmental health officer does have certain powers in relation to pest control but the responsibility does rest primarily with the person occupying the property. The contact details for your local environmental health officer are available on the website of the HSE.
Answered by Suzanne Bainton, solicitor at Liston & Company