Melbourne's vacant property hotspots revealed as Andrews introduces new tax

Melbourne's vacant property hotspots revealed as Andrews introduces new tax
Melbourne's vacant property hotspots revealed as Andrews introduces new tax

The Melbourne areas with the most number of unoccupied properties have been revealed, as the Andrews government prepares for its new vacant property tax.

The new tax will hit the Melbourne City Council area, where more than 2500 high-rise apartments are vacant.

The new tax will apply to the 16 local government areas from January 1 next year for properties that are left vacant for more than six months in a calendar year.

In the Moonee Valley council area, which includes Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale, Avondale Heights, there are at least 1700 empty properties.

There are more than 1000 vacant properties in the inner-northern Yarra City Council area, which takes in Fitzroy, North Carlton, Collingwood and Richmond.

Glen Eira and Port Phillip each have up to 1300 unoccupied properties.

The number of empty homes is estimated based on water usage.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the vacancy tax would send a strong message to property owners who were "land banking" that they needed to sell or rent those homes.

There is a range of exemptions for the tax. Some of those will include deceased estates, holiday homes and properties being renovated.

Mr Andrews said the vacancy tax was a commonsense change.

"This is a really powerful signal to the market not to be leaving properties vacant at a time when so many people are finding it so hard to get into the market."

Census figures from 2016 showed that Australia had 200,000 more homes sitting empty than it did a decade ago. 

The vacancy tax is expected to raise more than $80 million over four years. But Mr Andrews said he hoped it would encourage owners to rent or sell their properties rather than providing revenue to the government.

Opposition Treasurer Michael O'Brien​ asked "are property owners now required to send their diaries to Daniel Andrews' tax officials?"

HomeGround Real Estate, a division of Launch Housing, is calling on owners of empty properties in the municipality to return 1,000 homes to the rental market.

Despite the current housing affordability crisis, more than 7,000 homes in the City of Melbourne municipality remain empty according to City of Melbourne demographic data 2013*. Returning just 14 per cent, or 1,000 homes, to the rental market would make a big difference to the growing number of people who struggle to find an affordable home in Melbourne.

HomeGround Real Estate is a not-for-profit real estate agency run by Launch Housing, one of Melbourne’s largest providers of housing and homelessness services. The innovative social enterprise aims to increase the stock of affordable housing for clients throughout Melbourne, securing affordable properties for low income tenants, including women and children escaping family violence. 

Launch Housing Deputy CEO Dr Heather Holst said property owners leave homes empty for a variety of reasons but listing the properties with HomeGround Real Estate could make a big difference.

“More and more people on lower incomes are at risk of homelessness due to the lack of affordable rental properties in Melbourne.

“The benefits are huge. People who have otherwise been priced out of the market are offered more affordable private rental, and HomeGround Real Estate offers landlords expert property and tenancy management services that give them peace of mind, the opportunity to contribute to those in need of housing, and a ‘social return’ on their negotiated, discounted rental fee.” 

The City of Melbourne made a one-off grant of $150,000, from its $2 million Pathways Innovation Package, to HomeGround Real Estate to contribute to activities that will increase the number of rental properties that are available to people experiencing homelessness within the municipality.

Victoria Vacant Housing

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