The problem with the shortage of affordable housing in the UK has been doing the rounds for many a year now, and many a government has either proposed to or tried to do something about it.
This problem is not unique to the United Kingdom, and we would do well to look at the examples other counties have set in tackling this type of problem, and whether it will be feasble to roll out in the UK.
Different countries on different continents are going about tackling the problem of housing shortages, from Canada and Australia to Denmark and France, their governments are trying ways to ease the housing conumdrum, from taxing empty properties, to blocking foreign investment.
Vancouver will be imposing a tax on empty properties.
The ‘Empty Homes Tax’ introduced in January, will be on homes that aren’t main residences and sit empty for over six months of the year.
Homes that are classed as ‘empty’ will be subject to a 1% tax on the property value.
Revenue generated from this tax will then be invested in affordable housing initiatives.
Paris has increased the annual surcharge for owners who leave properties sitting empty.
Property expert Henry Pryor said:
“We already have penalties for people owning unoccupied homes in this country as they pay 50% more council tax if property is unoccupied”.
This ‘Empty Homes Premium’ in England was introduced April 2013 for properties left empty for two years or more.
Australia, has introduced a Stamp Duty surcharge for foreign investors along with an empty homes tax.
The state of New South Wales, introduced a ‘Foreign Investor Surcharge Duty, of an additional 8% for foreign buyers last year.
A think tank, the Bow Group, said Unless things change, Britain could be building new homes forever without making a dent in the shortage of homes for residents, because ‘investment buying’ would just keep on happening.
In Denmark, the rule is anyone from outside the EU must have lived in the country for five years or more or need to get permission from the Danish Ministry of Justice before buying.
Switzerland, non-residents can only buy residential property in certain areas; which excludes cities including Geneva, Basel and Zurich as these areas are for primary residences only.
If these type of measures would work or even be a good idea, that would be for others to decide, and only time would tell.
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