Thursday, 29 March 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
165. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason a portion of an estate (details supplied) in County Cork deemed to be eligible for a waiver under the household charge, is excluded from the waiver; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17303/12]
170. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if waivers for the household charge will be considered not only for listed unfinished housing estates, but also for private streets with housing (details supplied) which are surrounded by unfinished buildings now in the National Asset Management Agency receivership, due to the fact that private residents in the area are undergoing environmental, health and safety and anti-social behaviour problems associated with the abandoned buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17351/12]
174. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will furnish a reply to correspondence (details supplied) regarding the misnaming of a housing estate which is exempted from the household charge; if he will confirm that the residents of the estate are not liable to pay the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17375/12]
180. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding payment of the household charge for houses in housing estates not taken over by the local authority because they are unfinished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17442/12]
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:
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. 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.
166. Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17304/12]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): The household charge is on a self-assessment basis and it is a matter for an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January, 2012 to determine if he/she has a liability and, if so, that person is required to declare that liability and pay the household charge by 31 March, 2012. Significant efforts are being made to ensure that property owners are aware of the household charge and the requirements to make a declaration of liability and to pay the charge by 31 March, 2012.
There is a range of options available for persons to pay the household charge. An online system www.householdcharge.ie is in place in the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to enable homeowners to pay the household charge by credit/debit card. In addition, homeowners can make payment by cheque, postal order or by credit/debit card by completing the relevant payment details on the declaration form and posting it to Household Charge, PO Box 12168, Dublin 1. Instalment payments were available by direct debit only and persons opting to pay in this way had to register their details before 1 March, 2012. A bureau is in place in the LGMA to administer the charge on a shared service/agency basis for all local authorities. In addition, all county/city councils have been requested to have arrangements in place for persons to attend their principal offices to facilitate payment of the household charge up to 31 March, 2012.
167. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the application of the household charge to properties that are not deemed to be habitable; if he will provide details of the assessment of whether a property is habitable or not; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17310/12]
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil 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 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 definition of “residential property” in section 2(1) of the Act is relevant when considering whether a property that is not used or lived in is liable to the charge. Under the Act “residential property” is defined as a “...building that is situated in the State and that is occupied, or suitable for occupation, as a separate dwelling...”.
There are a number of indicators as to what makes a property suitable for occupation for the purposes of determining a liability to the household charge. The indicators include the structure of the property, whether or not it has a roof, whether or not it is so affected by dampness as to render it unsuitable for habitation, and whether or not it has sanitary facilities, including a water closet and water supply. A property that is not suitable for occupation should not be regarded as a residential property within the meaning of the Act.
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