With all the talk of the housing crisis, here’s a few facts to bear in mind.
According to the last census, we have an estimated 185,000 unoccupied dwellings - just over 10% of all houses. That is more empty houses as a % of total houses than ever in recorded history; at the end of WWII it was half of that. Of course many of these will be baches/ 2nd or 3rd homes in the Coromandel or Wanaka. The houses in these areas spend most of the year less than half occupied. However, even in Auckland we have over 30,000 unoccupied dwellings – over 6%.
Our tax system provides no incentive to use our housing stock efficiently. In fact, many owners can earn far more in untaxed capital gain than they can in rental income – so why bother with tenants at all? Better to keep the house free in case you need a place to sleep when you are visiting that city. Meanwhile we have over 40,000 homeless people. Is that the sort of country we want to live in?
The census also tells us there are a lot of spare bedrooms out there, particularly in houses that are owned, rather than rented.
Around 6% of houses have one bedroom. But around a quarter of households only have one person in them. Similarly only 20% of houses have 2 bedrooms, while over a third of households have 2 people. The average household size is 2.7 people, and the average house has over 3 bedrooms. That means at least one in 3 houses have a spare bedroom.
Finally, if we are going to build more houses, we want them to be affordable, not empty 5 bedroom monstrosities. But regardless of whether the private or public sector builds affordable houses, we need affordable land to build them on. Making affordable land available is clearly not in the interests of land bankers, who currently make plenty of money by sitting on their property and taking the untaxed capital gain. Our fair tax reform will kill off capital gain and give land bankers an incentive to build, right now.
Do we want to end homelessness?
Do we want to view housing as a right, a part of our social infrastructure, rather than a get rich quick scheme?
Do we want to get the most out of our housing stock without having to build more houses?
If we do need more affordable houses, do we want to have affordable land to build them on?
We can have all of these things with TOP’s tax reform. All it takes is for people to Care. Think. Vote.