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Written Answers - Local Authority Charges

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 408.  Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  if a person (details supplied) who has a non-principal residence for which they pay €200 for public services, is liable to pay the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16611/12]

[872]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. Under the legislation, an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January 2012 is liable to pay the household charge by 31 March 2012, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. The household charge is on a self assessment basis and interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 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.

I have no proposals to provide for an exemption in respect of an owner of a residential property who also has a liability to pay the €200 non-principal private residence charge.

Question No. 409 answered with Question No. 398.

 410.  Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  the types of properties that are exempt from the household charge under residential properties owned by a Minister of the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16614/12]

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 legislation underpinning the household charge.

The household charge is on a self assessment basis and interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.

Section 2(2) of the Act provides that certain buildings are not residential property for the purposes of the legislation. Section 2(2)(b), in particular, provides that a building vested in a Minister of the Government, a housing authority (within the meaning of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992) or the Health Service Executive is not a residential property for the purposes of the Act.

[873]Residential properties vested in a Minister of the Government and used/let in the performance of their functions are not residential property for the purposes of the legislation as making such properties liable would lead to unnecessary circular administrative structures.

However, residential property held in a personal capacity by a Minister of the Government would not be exempted under this provision.

 411.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  the reason a housing estate (details supplied) has not been included on the list of exempted ghost estates that are not required to pay the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16624/12]

 430.  Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan  if he will consider the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16772/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I propose to take Questions Nos. 411 and 430 together.

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 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, 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.

[874]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. The list of developments in which households are eligible for the waiver in 2012 is set out under the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012. The prescribed list of estates to which the waiver applies is the final and complete list for 2012.

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 significantly 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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