Victorian Government’s vacancy tax applauded

Launch Housing has welcomed today’s announcement from the Victorian Government regarding the new vacancy tax on residential properties.

The tax is among a suite of changes the government has announced to make housing more affordable, including the $1 billion Social Housing Growth Fund, and scrapping stamp duty for first home buyers.

“We have been calling for a vacancy tax for some time because it can be a good way of starting to address the rental affordability crisis in Melbourne. Leaving property vacant adds to the shortage of rental properties and so adds to the affordability crisis in the housing market,” Launch Housing CEO, Tony Keenan said today.

“For people on low incomes this means it is very difficult to find properties that are affordable to rent and this adds to the risk of homelessness.

“Many of the clients we see come to us directly as a result of their struggles in paying the rent in the private market. We know that the problems are particularly dire for single people on Newstart, especially if they have been unemployed for some time,” he added.

Previous analysis conducted by Launch Housing has suggested that more than 20,000 homes in metropolitan Melbourne and 220,000 across Australia are vacant, and estimated that the Government could raise up to $78million with a vacancy tax of 1% on the value of houses and apartments.

“Possibly the most important part of this reform is that it will encourage property owners to either rent out or sell their property, and this will add to the size of the rental market. Hopefully this will increase the availability of affordable rentals for people on low incomes.”

Mr Keenan said that any money raised should be dedicated to increasing the supply of social housing.

“The Government has made some welcome and significant announcements on social housing in recent weeks, most notably the $1billion investment fund in social housing, where dividends earned each year will be invested in social housing. However, Victoria has a lot of ground to make up in this area.”

Launch Housing also welcomed the investment of $20 million to upgrade rooming house facilities that accommodate vulnerable Victorians in Ballarat, Carlton and South Melbourne.

“This is the most significant long term commitment to addressing the housing crisis that Victoria has seen in some time,” Mr Keenan said.

“We congratulate the Andrews Government for their focus on addressing the housing affordability crisis, and encourage them to ensure that any money raised goes towards increasing social housing.