The Christchurch Progressive Network has written to Housing Minister Phil Twyford urging the government to consider implementing an Empty Homes Tax similar to the tax recently introduced in Vancouver, Canada.
With winter approaching and emergency houses full we desperately need more houses for tenants and families on low and middle incomes.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of thousands of houses – in some cases whole streets – of empty homes. Many of these homes are being held for capital gains (New Zealand has no effective Capital Gains Tax) and some are only rented over summer as airbnb accommodation.
The absence of these houses from the market is helping maintain high houses prices and high rents across the country.
In response to the issue of empty homes in Auckland in 2013 Phil Twyford said:
“It’s madness, and says a lot about the housing crisis, that we’ve got thousands of homes deliberately left vacant by their owners while in South Auckland there are kids sleeping under bushes.”
It’s time for Phil Twyford to put his money where his mouth is.
An Empty Homes Tax would mean large numbers of our tens of thousands of “ghost” homes would be available to rent at a time when homes are desperately needed.
In Vancouver residential property owners submit an annual property tax declaration with the Empty Homes Tax set at 1% of the property value if the home has been unoccupied for more than four months of the previous year. Exemptions apply for houses being built or houses which are sold during the year.
More details of the Vancouver Empty Homes Tax are here:
It should not be an issue left to the government’s Tax Working Group to consider. We need our empty homes available for accommodation this winter.