Housing academic says 'landed gentry' destroying 'fair go'

A leading housing academic has taken a swipe at Australian property investors and warns that drastic tax changes are needed to prevent the “landed gentry” from making housing affordability even worse.

Ian Winter, executive director at Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, says the upcoming Canberra Tax Forum should consider measures to limit negative gearing and replace the stamp duty tax system.

He says the “fair go” of the Australian housing market has disappeared.

“Property has become a speculators’ picnic, with homes treated more like share portfolios than as a basic human need,” he says writing for academic commentary website The Conversation

Winter warns the current imbalance in the housing market calling Australia “a nation of landlords and renters rather than a nation of home owners”.

“With 22% of Australians owning 55% of the homes across our capital cities, the landed gentry are on the rise,” he says.

According to Winter reforming the tax regime as it applies to housing has the potential to improve the lives of many Australians.

“If we get the settings right we can do some good,” he says.

Measures that could work have already been identified in the Henry Tax Review.

These include limiting negative gearing provisions and replacing state-levied stamp duties with a broad-based land tax.

“Limiting negative gearing provisions for residential landlords would likely see an increase in the supply of private rental accommodation from equity investors, such as superannuation funds,” he says.

“Henry’s proposal to replace stamp duty with a broad-based land tax levied on an individual rather than aggregate basis could also see prices drop by up to 10%.”

But he warns that getting the tax changes wrong could make things with the “current generations of wealthy property owners will be responsible for leaving behind a housing system far worse than the one they inherited”.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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