Abandoned houses could be the key to unlocking the housing crisis

May 15, 2024

Abandoned houses could be the key to unlocking the housing crisis

Five per cent of houses are abandoned according to the 2018 census. Photo: Matt Bullock

The Green Party believes that a tax on homebuyers is needed to stop houses from lying unused.

Green Party spokesperson for housing Tamantha Paul said that houses shouldn’t be left empty.

“If there’s a house and it’s safe to live in, then we should fill those houses. It’s crazy that houses would sit abandoned when we have people sleeping in cars and on the street.”

An empty house tax like the name suggests is a tax imposed on houses that are left unoccupied for a certain length of time.

AUT senior lecturer of taxation Ranjana Gupta said that she believes an empty home tax is the answer.

“A lot of foreign buyers will purchase properties here and not rent out those properties.

"Then they sell them after five years, seven years, 10 years and make a capital gain and pay no tax.”

As of the 2018 census, around 40,000 houses were empty in Auckland, but these included baches and holiday homes.

Gupta said that she believes the tax will help with the supply of houses.

Homeowners will either rent the properties out or sell them, which will increase the supply of homes.

The government disagrees that a tax is necessary.

Housing minister Chris Bishop said that homeowners are allowed to leave their houses empty.

“If a private individual owns a house and they chose not to occupy it, it’s within their rights to do so.”

Empty home taxes are currently in place across the world in cities such as Vancouver and Melbourne and in countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In the Canadian province of British Colombia, a government report found that the tax was successful.

Gupta said that holiday homes would be exempt from the tax, so Kiwis can rest assured that the Kiwi batch would live on if the tax was introduced.

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