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Intro Text 

Introduction:

Section 14 of the Local Government Act, 1946 provides that in the case of a vacant property a Ratepayer may be entitled to a refund of 1/12th of the rates paid for every full month of vacancy, provided certain criteria were met i.e. the property is vacant on the date the rate is made and is available for letting or is vacant for repairs/alterations. In effect no rates were payable on a vacant property which was unoccupied for a full year where the foregoing criteria were met.

Section 31 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 amended Section 14 of the Local Government Act, 1946 and contains a new reserved function which grants discretion to elected members to vary the level of rates refunds that apply in individual local electoral areas within the Local Authority’s overall administrative area. A decision by Members to vary the vacancy refund rate must be made by Members as part of the budgetary process and agreed at the annual budget meeting as provided for in Article 29, Part 5 of the L.G (Financial & Audit Procedures) Regulations 2014.

At the Budget Meeting of the Council held on the 4th November, 2014 Members determined by resolution to vary the vacancy refund rate from 100% to 75% and at the Budget Meeting held on the 4th November, 2015 Members determined by resolution to retain that reduction in the vacancy rate. Accordingly for the years 2015 and 2016 Ratepayers of vacant property in the county were obliged to pay 25% of the rates due in respect of vacant properties for which they are not entitled to a refund.

At the 2017 Budget Meeting held on the 8th November, 2016 Members  determined by resolution that the vacancy refund rate that would apply for 2017 would be reduced to 50% of the rates assessed on qualifying vacant property.  The 2017 budget also makes provision for a vacant property assistance scheme for ratepayers whose rate account was assessed at €10,000 or less for 2016. It provides for a relief equivalent to 25% of the rates bill assessed on eligible properties which effectively leaves the vacancy refund on these properties unaltered.

 

Terms and Conditions of the Scheme:

1. The relevant property must be vacant on the date of the making of the rate i.e. 3rd February, 2017, and available to let or vacant for the purpose of the execution of additions, alterations or repairs.

2. The relevant property must be capable of beneficial use and maintained to a level that would allow its use for commercial purposes.

3. The Scheme of Assistance will only apply to properties where the total commercial rates assessed in respect of that rate account for 2016, was €10,000 or less.

4. The assistance that will be made under the terms of the scheme will be equal to 25% of the rates assessed on the property subject to a maximum of €2,500.

5. To qualify for the assistance the ratepayer must do all of the following;

It will not be necessary for ratepayers of the vacant property to apply for the assistance. Qualifying properties that meet the specified criteria outlined above will have the assistance automatically applied to the accounts.

6. In respect of qualifying properties the vacancy adjustment assistance will be applied by means of an adjustment to the relevant rate account.

7. Where occupancy of a property is transferred during 2017,  the assistance  may be availed by the completion of a Section 32 Form by the ratepayer for the relevant period of their ownership subject to Section 32 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 (duty to inform rating authority of transfer of relevant property) being complied with. 

8.The scheme shall apply for the period 1st January to 31st December 2017.

9. Occupiers qualifying for this Support Grant may also qualify for other Business Supports available from the Council (i.e. the Business Support Scheme 2017 - 4% of Rates Bill for Eligible Ratepayers, the Occupation of Vacant Commercial Premises Scheme and the Shop Front Improvement Scheme).

Section 66 of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended by Section 43 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, provides that a local authority may provide such financial assistance as it considers appropriate to promote the interests of the local community, including enterprise and economic development interests. The adoption of the proposed Rates Vacant Property Assistance Scheme 2017 - 25% of Rates Bill on Eligible Vacant Properties, under Section 66 of the L.G Act 2001 as amended by Section 43 of the L.G Reform Act 2014, is a reserved function of the Council. 

 

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