EmptyHomes.ie wants to bring Ireland's abandoned homes back to the market

Irish Census 2016 showed that over 183,000 houses lie empty in Ireland, a little over 9 percent of Ireland’s housing stock.

Now EmptyHomes.ie, a new Irish roots hunting firm, is on a mission to bring Ireland’s many disused and abandoned houses back into the market, especially in the midst of a nationwide housing crisis.

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Members of the public are being urged to use EmptyHomes.ie to log and register empty homes in their communities. Erin Research, a probate genealogy firm that specializes in tracing missing beneficiaries and unknown next of kin to estates worldwide, is behind EmptyHomes.ie and says it has the resources to fast track homes for social and private use but needs assistance from the public to find the right properties.

Padraic Grennan, EmptyHomes.ie founder, said some local authorities are struggling to process the information they are receiving from the public about vacant properties due to a lack of resources. EmptyHomes.ie was set up to counter this.

“There are many reasons why houses can lie abandoned, for years,” Grennan said. “We all know of empty homes sitting in our neighborhoods – we may even have known who lived there last and it’s a shame to see properties fall to ruin.

“One of the reasons a home can remain empty is because a person has died and their estate has not been resolved. There may be missing beneficiaries or no will. In other cases, the family has not elected to sell the home for various complicated reasons. Often, nobody knows who owns a property or why it is abandoned.

“Because of our background in genealogy and heir tracing, we have the expertise to find out this information and use it to get these houses back to market. We work to get to the bottom of why a house is abandoned and how to get in lived in again.”

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Members of the public can log properties at EmptyHomes.ie, which will create a map of abandoned homes across the country and identify those most suitable for social and private housing.

“In a lot of cases, we present the properties to local authorities ready for social housing repair,” says Grennan. “We have established links with our well known charitable housing bodies such as Focus Ireland who do such great work in housing those in need. We can also provide houses to the private market. The key to the process is resolving the legal and probate work so that buyers can purchase the property with ease.”

With over 10,000 people in Ireland accounted as homeless in the latest Government figures, Grennan says that identifying the right vacant properties is key. 

“We’re looking for properties in towns and cities, where there’s demand. We’re also looking for properties that can be returned to use as quickly as possible. We are already working with local authorities who tell us they have the information but not the resources to solve the cases.

"We see EmptyHomes.ie as playing one vital role in helping return a whole swathe of housing stock to market. The crisis is so great that it will take many forms of assistance, from both the private and public sectors, to solve. We know we can help, with the right information.”

Grennan concluded: “Every day we pass by boarded-up houses, overgrown gardens, and crumbling properties. Even in our cities, where we are housing families in B&Bs every night, there are empty homes just lying there. We’re calling on the public to let us know about these properties and we will do our best to get them lived in again, as soon as possible.”

You can learn more about the Empty Homes heir hunting firm on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Locating the heirs to abandoned homes in Ireland could be the key to solving the housing crisis.Getty Images