Illawarra Greens proposing 'Empty Homes Levy' on unused homes - Illawarra Greens

Illawarra Greens proposing 'Empty Homes Levy' on unused homes

There are thousands of unoccupied private dwellings in the Wollongong local government area. Therefore, the Greens are proposing action to unlock unused houses and tackle issues such as affordability, supply and homelessness. At next Monday's meeting, Wollongong Greens councillor, Cath Blakey will table a motion on an Empty Homes Levy. 

The levy creates an incentive for investors to rent out properties, while also producing a recurrent income stream to fund local community housing. Under such schemes, councils partner with state governments to ensure that the additional levy is applied to residential properties that have been vacant for a considerable period of time. 

"Let's turn these empty houses into homes", says Cr Blakey.

Read the article by Brendan Crabb, The Illawarra Mercury, 4 March 2019

Illawarra Greens proposing 'Empty Homes Levy' on unused homes

PROPOSAL: (Left to right) Kaye Osborn, Greens candidate for Keira; Jamie Dixon, Greens candidate for Shellharbour; Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey; and Ben Arcioni, Greens candidate for Wollongong. Picture: Sylvia Liber
PROPOSAL: (Left to right) Kaye Osborn, Greens candidate for Keira; Jamie Dixon, Greens candidate for Shellharbour; Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey; and Ben Arcioni, Greens candidate for Wollongong. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Therefore, the Greens are proposing action to unlock unused houses and tackle issues such as affordability, supply and homelessness. 

Data from the 2016 Census indicated there were 6330 unoccupied private dwellings in the Wollongong LGA; nearly eight per cent of residential properties. 

"That was the figure on Census night," Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey said. 

"We know that not all of them would be long-term empty, but figures from water and electricity indicate that at least half of them are."

At next Monday's meeting, Cr Blakey will table a motion on an Empty Homes Levy. 

An Empty Homes Levy aims to unlock empty homes currently held by investors for capital gains. 

The levy creates an incentive for investors to rent out properties, while also producing a recurrent income stream to fund local community housing. 

Under such schemes, councils partner with state governments to ensure that the additional levy is applied to residential properties that have been vacant for a considerable period of time. 

"It has succeeded in the UK and has been introduced in Victoria," Cr Blakey said. 

"In Victoria they addressed anything that was vacant for more than six months."

There are exceptions if the property is vacant due to reasons such as death or illness, or under renovation. 

"It's not meant to capture anyone who goes on holiday; just the long-term empty that are being held by investors," Cr Blakey said. 

"It's a sign of obscene housing inequality that there's all these houses sitting empty. (Meanwhile) there's 3500 people on the waiting list for social housing in Wollongong, for example, or about 1500 people that are homeless.

"Let's turn these empty houses into homes."

Cr Blakey's proposal includes that Wollongong council write to the NSW Treasurer and Minister for Planning, and their opposition counterparts, to request provisions for an Empty Homes Levy be made available for local governments in NSW. 

The motion also calls for council to request information from the Victorian Minister for Housing regarding the performance of the Vacant Residential Property Tax in boosting supply and making housing and renting more affordable. 

The Greens' Illawarra candidates for the upcoming state election have backed the initiative. 

"These are homes that are here right now - they're not homes that we need to plan to build… These are houses right here, ready to move into," Jamie Dixon, candidate for Shellharbour said.