Debate Begins on Bill to Tax Empty Homes in Catalonia

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Public discussion is set begin in Catalonia on a measure to tax owners of long-empty homes. With demand increasing for affordable housing, legislators are trying to encourage financial institutions to offer empty homes for different forms of social housing, Inmodiario reports.

Hundreds of thousands of homes are empty in Spain, most in control of the banks. A tax could raise €8 million to €25 million, which could bolster affordable housing efforts, the paper reports.

There are an array of exemptions to the proposed bill, which clearly targets financial institutions holding large stocks of empty flats. Only apartments in areas of high demand would be considered for the tax, according to media reports.

The tax would be implemented gradually and depend on the number of homes owned. Owners could receive bonuses for providing part of their portfolio of homes for affordable housing. France, the UK and Denmark have imposed similar taxes, Inmodiario notes.

The bill is scheduled to reach the Catalonia Parliament in July.

The measure represents the latest move by Spain governments to regulate the unusual stock of housing, in the wake of the market collapse. In Barcelona, the local government has announced plans to restrict short term tourist rentals, hoping to keep empty apartments from competing with local hotels.

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