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How France is reducing vacancies

Apartments that are deliberately not rented out are a problem. They continue to fuel rental prices in cities. More than 20 years ago, the French government decided to tax it on vacancies and thus create housing. Now the first scientific evaluation of the measure appeared: it works.

If apartments are deliberately left empty, housing seekers end up paying the price: fewer vacant apartments means higher rents. Vacancy is a problem in many countries when owners do not want to rent, for example, because they rely on rents to continue to rise and make higher profits, or even wait for them to buy their homes. As a result, housing is being lost, which is already scarce.

In her study, the researcher Mariona Sego writes that in the eurozone, about 10 percent of housing is empty, at least in 2005. Especially in cities where housing is scarce and expensive.

Tax against vacancy

But what to do about it? France introduced a tax on vacancy in some major cities as early as 1999. He developed an empirical model to show the effect of the measure. As a result, the tax reduced the vacancy rate by 13 percent between 1997 and 2001. The biggest effect was on long-term vacancies. The result suggests that a tax can actually be a helpful tool for reducing vacancies. Similar taxes exist in the UK and Jerusalem.

And Austria?

Only last year, the Salzburg ÖVP announced that it was considering a vacancy levy. There are constitutional concerns. At the same time, there are an estimated 10,000 empty apartments in Salzburg City.

Five years ago, the city provided figures for Vienna: 35,000 apartments were empty in the capital, 10,000 of which were long-term. A certain quota of unoccupied dwellings is necessary in order for there to be an offer for those seeking housing. So the real problem is long-term vacancies.

Compared to other major cities, Vienna is still regarded as a model for housing. But housing is becoming more and more expensive throughout Austria.

Rental prices are rising faster than wages. As a result, we have to spend more and more of our income on housing. In addition, permanent tenancies are slowly disappearing from the market. According to a calculation by the Chamber of Labour, 70 percent of all new rentals are temporary. All of this puts pressure on tenants.

The results from France show that a tax on vacancy actually makes more housing accessible to tenants.

Germany

In Germany, this is repeatedly brought in by local left-wing politicians, but so far without success. In Germany, it is estimated that millions of dwellings are empty and so far only the redevelopment has been discussed accordingly.