Owners of £123bn in unused UK property should pay 1% empty homes tax says researcher

Property owners who leave homes empty should be penalised with a 1 percent tax.

A study by University College London (UCL) PhD researcher Jonathan Bourne has revealed that homes worth a staggering £123 billion lie unoccupied or unused across the UK.

340,000 homes rarely used

While the Government has set a target of building thousands of new homes every year to alleviate the housing crisis, Bourne's research concludes that many of those new properties would simply be bought as second left or investments and left empty.

Instead, he suggests, property owners should have to pay an empty homes tax when their property is left unoccupied.

The research looked at information collated by a third of all UK local authorities, covering 40 percent of the population. It revealed almost 340,000 homes are either empty or rarely used.

Most of those properties are in London and the south-west. The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea has £21 billion worth of underused property within its borders.

Concentrated in desirable areas

Bourne said: "Some of the most surprising findings were the sheer value and quantity of low-use properties in some areas.

"The data shows that low-use properties are very concentrated in small numbers of desirable areas.

"In such cases, simply building more homes is not going to solve the problem, as the issue is intense competition for property, not a lack of places to live.

"An empty homes tax may be more effective, with the potential to generate a not inconsiderable income for local authorities, whilst taxing people who are typically not eligible to vote in local elections or encouraging them to rent out their properties."