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New Government project to study NZ's empty homes.

15 August 2021

Photo by The Geography Bible On YouTube from Pexels

The Government is rolling out a new initiative to understand why there are so many empty properties in NZ and possible ways to utilise them to help with the housing crisis.

Even though there is an acute housing shortage in many New Zealand regions, the latest Census shows around 95,000 homes are left vacant by their owners throughout the country.

Census figures are useful because they show trends over time, but they can largely overstate the actual number of long-term vacant habitable properties because they include temporarily empty dwellings. These include holiday homes, properties undergoing renovations or homes that are in-between tenancies.

The Government has contracted the Wise Group to run a $500,000 study to help define the "empty home" in NZ context and determine whether such properties can be used to increase a housing stock and re-enter the housing supply. The main focus of the study and the location to test initiatives will be Hamilton.

The land-banking is a complicated issue. However, public awareness of unused homes has been growing globally, with some countries introducing an empty homes tax to encourage more efficient use of a scarce housing resource. For example, when the empty homes tax was introduced in Vancouver, Canada, to relieve pressure on the red-hot housing market, the city saw a reduction in vacant properties. The Government was also able to raise millions to fund affordable housing projects.

The Empty Homes study is the first of its kind in New Zealand, created to shine some light on the subject.

Is the number of under-utilised properties in NZ substantial enough to make a difference on housing supply? Will the possible marginal increase in rental inventory be enough to assist those struggling to find affordable accommodation? Hopefully, this research will be able to provide some answers.

If you own a property that's empty - either some of the time or all of the time - the Wise Group is encouraging property owners to share their thoughts in a short, anonymous survey.

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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What the community has to say
  • KR

    This will inevitably lead to yet another tax on property owners. It's controlling by tax policy. Sadly with such harsh taxes now on landlords many will wonder why do it. Landlords are portray poorly by government and media. They have to deal with many issues and it will have to result for some deciding why bother to tenant when just leaving the property vacant is so much easier.
    Are we becoming more State controlled?

  • KM
    Katrina linda

    Yes please good for buy house for me and my baby girl she is 11months old

  • SS

    You are kidding me right? More tax payer money being spent on a useless study when we all know why there are vacant houses.... Worsening tenany laws making it less appealing to rent out your holiday home. What an incompetent government!

  • AR

    I have one empty house and one aprtment about to be. Too much risk to rent one out and too much expense to let the other. I am enjoying the lack of hassle. Pity. We had ahppy tenants of ten plus years who moved because they had bought. Government hit a nut with a sledgehammer. No thought for the domino effect. No more happy tenants.

  • HV

    Successive governments sold off thousands of Housing New Zealand stock.
    This is where it begins.
    Many complications have now been added as a result.
    Stop looking at other countries, to see what has happened there, rather
    focus on the damage created here, and find a way through it.

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