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Written Answers - Local Authority Charges

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 138.  Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  when a receipt will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Laois in respect of their payment of the household charge for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3924/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for the issue of a receipt in respect of the payment of a household change. The provision of a receipt for this purpose is a matter for the Local Government Management Agency, which is administering the household charge on a shared service/agency basis on behalf of all county and city councils. I have no function in the matter.

 139.  Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  if the household charge is payable in cases in which the bond is still held by a local authority due to unfinished works or when there is a request to be renew the bond because of unfinished works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7267/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge.

The Act provides for a number of exemptions and waivers from payment of the household charge.

The exemptions from payment of the household charge are — Residential properties that are part of the trading stock of a business and have not been sold or been the source of any income since construction; Residential property owned by a Minister of the Government, a housing authority or the Health Service Executive; Voluntary and co-operative housing; Residential property subject to commercial rates and wholly used as a dwelling, Residential property owned by certain charities or discretionary trusts, and Residential property which an owner has vacated due to long-term mental or physical infirmity (e.g. elderly person that has moved into a nursing home).

The waivers which apply concern owners of residential property entitled to mortgage interest supplement, and owners of houses in certain unfinished housing estates.

As part of the process of preparing the National Housing Development Survey 2011, published by my Department in October 2011, local authorities provided details of all unfinished housing developments in their areas. Unfinished housing developments were divided into four [164]categories as follows: Category one, where the development is still being actively completed by the developer, or where no serious public safety issues exist; Category two, where a receiver has been appointed; Category three, where a receiver has not been appointed and the developer is still in place but effectively inactive; and Category four, where the development has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents.

Other relevant factors for the purposes of the categorisation process include, inter alia: the state of completion of roads, footpaths, public lighting facilities, piped water and sewerage facilities and open spaces or similar amenities within the development; the extent to which the development complies with the terms of applicable planning permission; the extent to which it complies with the provisions of the Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007; the provisions of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act 1964 as they pertain to dangerous places and dangerous structures within the meaning of the Act; the extent to which facilities within the development have been taken in charge by the local authority concerned and where there is an agreement regarding the maintenance of such facilities, the extent to which this agreement has been complied with.

In some cases a local authority may have found that conditions in respect of a certain phase of a development were relatively good and that, for example, no serious public safety issues could be identified. This phase of the development may have been categorised under category 1 or 2. Conversely, safety issues may have been identified in another phase of the same overall development, or development in that second phase may have been abandoned altogether, implying a category 3 or 4 identification for that phase.

This categorisation formed the basis for the list of those unfinished developments eligible for a waiver on the annual household charge.

Only households in developments in categories three and four are eligible for the waiver from payment of the household charge. This list of developments in which households are eligible for the waiver in 2012 is set out under the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 and forms the complete list of such developments for this year. A revised list of estates will be prescribed for 2013 after which time the waiver for unfinished housing developments will end. Throughout this period it is anticipated that the numbers of categories 3 and 4 developments will decrease as my Department continues to work with local authorities and other stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues, including through the Public Safety Initiative.


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