The Oireachtas Committee on Housing has said that there is an urgent need for reliable data on true levels of vacancy in Ireland.

Launching their report on Urban Regeneration, the committee's TDs and Senators said that plans for a vacant homes tax in Budget 2023 must be implemented.

"I have no doubt in many urban centres there is a significant level of vacancy that with the right carrot and the right stick we could bring those units back into use," Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin told reporters at today's launch.

Over the past number of weeks, the committee has been hearing evidence on how to bring towns and cities back to life.

TDs and Senators heard that the level of vacancy in Ireland could range from 90,000 units to 137,000 units.

However, all members agreed that the reliability of this data needs to be improved.

Committee chair Steven Matthews said that even if the level of vacancy is not as high as some witnesses have estimated, the vacant homes tax was still necessary.

Deputy Matthews said that a similar tax implemented in Vancouver, Canada, brought 26% of vacant homes back into use.

The Green Party TD said that data was also needed on the standard of vacant units in Ireland.

Social Democrat's Cian O'Callaghan said that Local Property Tax returns may not provide a full picture.

Deputy O'Callaghan said that Revenue contacted about 1.4 million property owners, but more than 200,000 properties remain unaccounted for.

He said that the Geo Directory or Census could provide more reliable figures on vacancy, however he added that the evidence from other countries shows that the best method of gathering accurate information is through the implementation of a vacant property tax.

Dublin North-West TD Paul McAuliffe said that vacancy and dereliction "eats away" at the centre of communities.

He said that whether a vacant property tax brings ten properties back in an area or thousands back into use, it is still worth implementing.

Other recommendations from the Oireachtas Housing Committee's report include an increase in the Residential Zoned Land Tax and a rise in the loan available under the Repair and Leasing Scheme, currently capped at €60,000, in light of inflationary pressures.

Waterford City and County Council was commended for its use of the Repair and Leasing Scheme.

The local authority is responsible for 50% of the overall number of homes delivered under this scheme nationwide.

Fine Gael Senator John Cummins said that the example set by Waterford should be replicated across the country.