16th October 2013
To ask the Minister for Environment and Local Government to ensure county councils issue a Certificate of Discharge and Exemption so people will have certainty that no liability arises in relation to derelict property from previous years of the NPPR.
-Senator Mark Daly
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan):
The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 broadened the revenue base of local authorities by introducing a charge on non-principal private residences. The charge was set at €200 and liability for it has fallen, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties. The charge has operated on a self-assessment basis and 2013 is the final year of operation of the charge.
The 2009 Act places the charge under the care and management of the local authorities and application in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation may be a matter for legal advice in individual cases and, ultimately, may be a matter to be decided by the courts.
Under the 2009 Act, as amended, “residential property” is defined as a “building that is situated in the State and that is occupied, or suitable for occupation, as a separate dwelling”. As such, a property which is not suitable for occupation does not fall within the definition of residential property and is not, therefore, liable for the charge. There are a number of indicators as to what makes a property suitable for occupation for the purposes of determining liability to the charge. The indicators include the structure of the property, whether it has a roof, whether it is so affected by dampness as to render it unsuitable for habitation and whether it has sanitary facilities, including a water closet and water supply.
It should be noted that certificates of exemption and certificates of discharge are issued solely in respect of residential properties, as defined by the Act. Therefore, a local authority is not in a position to issue a certificate of discharge in respect of a property which is derelict such that it is deemed to be uninhabitable on a given liability date for the charge.
Naturally, if informed by an owner that an otherwise liable property has been uninhabitable, a local authority should require evidence demonstrating the condition of the property on the relevant liability dates for the charge. If a local authority is satisfied that a property was uninhabitable, it is open to that local authority to provide written confirmation to the property’s owner stating that no non-principal private residence charge liability is outstanding in connection with that property.