With only days to go, one can’t help but feel a little sceptical around the various housing pledges that emerging last week, especially those that only seem to be addressing the issue of demand and not supply.
What parties should be focusing on is the problem of empty homes which has been a hot topic this term, with foreign buyers getting the brunt of the ‘buy-to-leave’ backlash. It appears only the Greens have offered to tackle this as one of their policies, and even here it’s not clear how they’re going to do it.
There needs to be a monetary incentive such as a ‘non-UK council tax’ which will encourage non-UK owners to keep their properties in use, whereby qualifying for exemption is the sole responsibility of the owner.
Much like Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED), owners would only be able to claim reliefs if they complete and send in a return; in this case, documentation detailing the intended use for the property at purchase and follow up with evidence of self-use (even as a rental property) for at least three months. Quite simply, if owners fail to provide evidence of occupancy, they will automatically pay the tax.
This levy would be determined as a percentage of the property value and paid to the local authority, not only ensuring that much-needed homes are brought back onto the market but providing an income for funding affordable and social housing.
Neil Jensen, head of operations in Asia, Fraser & Co
Fenwick Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong