Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal among counties with highest percentages of empty dwellings

Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim are among the counties in Ireland with the highest percentages of vacant dwellings.

Leitrim tops the list, with almost 20% of dwellings in the county empty.

The figures are the latest from Census 2016.

And the picture they paint is all the more startling when one looks at the percentage of dwellings vacant for five years or more.

When the census was done last year, there were more than 18,000 dwellings in County Leitrim.

Over 3,590 of them – almost 20% — were vacant.

And almost 1,560 were empty for five years or more.

Of the more than 32,700 dwellings in County Sligo, more than 4,700 – over 14% — were vacant.

More than 2,000 were empty for five years or more.

Of the almost 84,000 dwellings in County Donegal, more than 11,700 – or almost 14% — were vacant.

About 4,600 dwellings in Donegal were vacant for over five years.

Among other counties with high percentages of vacant dwellings were Cavan, Longford, Mayo and Roscommon.

Not covered in the census is how many of these dwellings — particularly those empty for years — that are now in a condition for immediate renting.

Among the reasons for vacant properties in rural areas are owners being in nursing homes, people dying, issues over probate or, quite simply, a lack of demand.

Despite the high percentage vacancy rates in some counties, analysis of the figures show that nationally, tens of thousands of empty dwellings are in the heart of major urban areas where demand is highest.
And experts say there is also a lot of properties that could be brought back into use in regional towns which would boost local development and ease pressure on prices and rents in the main cities.

According to the Census figures, there were 1,111 people in need of housing in Sligo town but there were 1,270 vacant dwellings, with 459 empty for more than five years.

The overall national picture is of more than 65,000 houses lying empty throughout the country for five years or more – this at the same time as one of the worst housing crises ever.

All of which will increase interest in the government’s vacant homes strategy, which is expected to be published in the coming weeks.