Empowering local authorities to tackle housing crisis must be backed up with vacant home tax

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
28 January 2022

Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has welcomed the news that the Department of Housing will encourage local authorities to scale up their use of compulsory purchase orders to tackle dereliction. Senator Moynihan said this move must be backed up with a robust vacant property tax.

Senator Moynihan said:

“Earlier this month it was reported that one in twenty vacant homes lie totally empty throughout the country. I have long called on government to empower our local authorities and give them the resources to tackle this head on and bring vacant homes back into the market. The scheme announced by the Department of Housing needs to be backed up with a budget for mapping and registering vacant properties so we can identify the scale of empty housing stock available.

“Once this measure is complete, government needs to move and introduce a vacant property tax to bring some of these empty homes into supply. A strong vacant homes tax would actually encourage former homes, including permanently empty apartments and derelict houses, back into use. It would bring an end to the sight of apartments lying empty with the plastic still on the mattress.

“If the Minister is actually committed to improving the CPO powers locally, we will need to see an increase in funding for local authorities to repurpose these homes. Dedicated teams in local authorities must be tasked with mapping and activating vacant property. The Minister needs to get to work now on legislation that would compel owners of empty homes to register this.
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“At the most fundamental level, housing needs to be delivered by local authorities. We also need to see a stick approach to motivate those with vacant homes to bring them back onto the market.”

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