Welcome to Dormant, where we will look at preliminary results from the 2022 Census around housing stock and vacancy in Ireland.
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Over 120,000 new properties have been built since the last Census in 2016.
This represents an increase of 6%, while the population has increased by 7.6% in the same time.
Leinster saw the biggest relative increases in the amount of housing coming onto the market with Meath leading the way – 12% of the county’s housing has been built since the last Census.
Despite these increases, Ireland is undergoing a housing crisis due to lack of housing supply and affordability, which led us to question - how many houses are lying empty in Ireland?
Preliminary results from the 2022 Census found over 166,752 vacant properties – 7.8% of housing stock.
While this figure is down from 183,000 in 2016, we can’t get away from the fact that there are more properties vacant in Ireland than have been built since 2011.
Census field operators visited more than 2 million homes in the weeks around Census night, which was the 3rd of April 2022.
In some cases, the door was not answered after repeat visits. For these houses, the enumerator makes an assessment of the house, based on a visual inspection and checking with neighbours.
The Central Statistics Office does not classify unoccupied holiday homes as vacant properties. On Census night, there were over 66,000 such properties.
There are more properties vacant in Ireland than there are houses in all of county Galway, and more empty holiday homes than there are houses in all of county Wicklow.
Now that we have some context, let’s dig into how the vacancy rate changes across the country.
The vacancy rate broadly increases as we move from east to west, from a low of under 4% in South Dublin to a high of 15.5% in Leitrim – although this high is down from 20% in 2016.
Hover over a county for its key statistics.
Breaking each county down into its electoral districts shows a band of high vacancy rates that stretches inland from north Cavan to north Mayo.
Again, we can hover over a district for its key statistics.
We can also represent the vacancy data as a distribution with an average of 7.8% and a median – or “middle” value – of 8.92%.
In the 2016 data, the mean and median are higher and there are many more regions over 20% vacancy.
In Dublin alone, there are over 30,000 vacant properties. The county has low vacancy rates in the suburbs with some higher spikes in the city.
Let's look at the 4 constituencies in Dublin to explore how these vacancy rates changed over the last few years.
Dublin City has the highest vacant ratio in the county. We can see there was a large spike in vacancies in 2006 that it hasn’t recovered from.
The plot for Fingal has a similar shape, but is lower and has recovered faster.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown mirrors Fingal until 2022, where vacancies only decreased slightly.
South Dublin has the lowest vacancy rate in the country, although it increased in 2022.
Next, let's look at the population growth since 2016.
The Census showed that Ireland’s population increased above 5 million for the first time in 150 years. Longford, Meath and Kildare all saw double-figure changes in population.
How does this population growth compare with changes in housing?
Looking at the absolute change in housing stock would not take the occupancy of these houses into account. Instead, we will look at the change in occupied housing, which is the change in housing stock minus the changes in vacant dwellings and holiday homes.
Plotting the two entities against each other shows a nearly linear relationship, meaning that the population density in most counties has not changed significantly since 2016.
The one exception to this is county Longford, which has jumped from 20th to 12th in the country in terms of population density.
Finally, let's look at the reasons for vacancy and how these vary across the country.
The majority of vacant houses in Ireland are listed as rental properties, particularly in Dublin, which has over 8,000.
A study in July 2022 found 5,358 entire homes available for short-term let in Dublin on Airbnb, but only 380 for long-term rental on Daft.ie.
27,500 houses were vacant because the owners were deceased. This is more common in rural areas and is a high figure since the probate process in Ireland typically takes more than one year.