Basque proposal for new empty property tax
The Basque Government is considering making owners of empty flats pay a penalty of 9 euros a day. This would rise to 12 euros a day for the second year if the flat remained empty. According to Sr Madrazo, Housing Director of the Regional Government, “it is an unacceptable luxury for owners to have flats which are not lived in when there are so many people in need of a home”.
The idea behind this law is to encourage property owners to let out unoccupied property. In order for the proposal to become law, the Government needs the support of EB, the PNV, EA and other smaller parties.
This proposal put forward by the Housing Director of the Regional Government would see the creation of an official register of empty properties in the Basque Region. The list would only include housing officially declared empty following legal proceedings. Legal proceedings would take place if no one is officially registered as a resident of the property or if there are other indicators such as very low consumption of water, gas or electricity which suggest lack of occupation.
Property owners would be forced to pay a penalty by each district and the money gathered would be split equally between the Basque Government and those Town Halls affected. The money it costs to run such a project would be reimbursed before splitting the money. The extra funds created by this scheme would then be destined to be used on new housing projects.
In a press conference held in Gallarta (Vizcaya), Madrazo explained that these measures were being seriously considered before their incorporation into the Housing Bill which his department will be presenting within the next few weeks.
In 2005, it was estimated that there were 54,425 empty flats in the Basque Country out of which 20,198 were thought to be second homes. Madrazo believes that if these measures were adopted then some 26,000 flats could be let out to young people unable to afford a new house.
Spokesmen from the PNV and Basque Socialist parties both called for a proper definition of “empty housing” and did not say whether or not their parties would support the motion. However, Madrazo said that ‘the definition of what constitutes an empty property is possible’. He said that in using the term empty he was referring to housing that has been unoccupied during 365 days of the year and not to holiday homes used in the summer months.