We have previously examined the register of vacant sites (“the Register”) and vacant site levy introduced under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 (“the Principal Act”). The article can be viewed here. The Principal Act provided that every local authority was required to introduce a register of vacant sites in their area. Vacant sites on the Register were subject to an annual levy of 3% of the market value of the site.

In his 2018 budget speech, the Minister for Finance indicated that it was intended that this levy be increased to 7% of the market value of the site.

Legislation has now given this effect. Under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 (“the 2018 Act”), the levy has been increased to 7% from 2019 onwards.

This means that if a site is on the Register on 1 January 2019, the levy for that year will be 7% of the Market Value of that site. The levy chargeable for 2018 will remain at 3% but all sites on the register on 1 January 2019 will be liable for the increased levy.

The 2018 Act has also removed previous reductions available on the levy whereby a site was subject to a loan. Landowners should be aware that these potential reductions, which they may have previously sought to avail of, have been removed from the legislation.

Given the significant increase in the levy, it is important that landowners carry out an assessment of any relevant property which they may hold and take steps to avoid entry on the Register if they conclude that their site could be classified as a vacant site. Landowners with sites which have already been placed on the Register equally need to be aware of the increased levy they are now facing if their site remains on the Register on 1 January 2019.