BY TOMMY BOUTROUS
New figures from the 2016 census reveal that nearly one in 10 homes in the Inner West are presently unoccupied, inciting calls for a crackdown on investors who leave their properties vacant.
A record 10,525 homes have been left vacant in Sydney’s Inner West, Canada Bay, Burwood, and Strathfield districts, showing an increase of 1,525 empty homes since the 2011 census.
Yet waiting lists of up to 10 years are apparent for people requiring public housing.
Laurence Troy, research fellow at the UNSW City Futures Research Centre said, “Investors might keep a house untenanted because it’s easier to resell in future if they don’t need to wait for the end of a lease.”
The Inner West Council has launched an investigation into these figures, following a motion put by former councilor John Stamolis.
“We need to find out why vacancies are increasing before charging headlong into building more units,” he said.
Jenny Leong, Greens MP for the Inner West, suggested an Empty Homes Levy to increase rates for homes that have been vacant for 12 months or more.
“By creating an incentive for investors to rent out properties, Councils will not only increase the number of homes available for tenants – they can also create a new revenue stream to build community housing,” she said. “Councils will work in partnership with the State Government to increase rates for homes that have been vacant for 12 months or more – an Empty Homes Levy.”
“We should approach the issue of housing in the same way that we approach health care and other services, which is to recognise that all people have a right to live somewhere they call home.