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Queensland vacancy tax a big mistake, says industry body

By Tim Neary
14 November 2017 | 10 minute read
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The Green Party’s so-called “vacancy” tax is poorly researched, lacks credible data and is deeply flawed, the REIQ has said.

The agency also said that if it were introduced, it would not only place an unfair financial costs on property owners but also fail to solve the perceived lack of affordable housing.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said that the policy is a “massive” disincentive to investing in Queensland real estate.

“This policy adds yet another layer of cost to owning real estate in Queensland,” the CEO said.

“The Greens claim this policy will raise $800 million over five years, but that would require an annual median house price growth of a whopping 8.6 per cent for five consecutive years,” Ms Mercorella said.


She called the notion “simply preposterous”.

“Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Brisbane property market would know our market has been growing at around 3 [per cent] to 4 per cent over the past few years,” Ms Mercorella said.

She also said that the Greens make no mention of the cost of implementing the program, which is significant.

“Who is going to monitor and regulate this? There’s an enormous level of red tape being added to the property sector with this flawed policy.”

Ms Mercorella criticised the Greens for simply assuming that Brisbane’s breakdown of vacant residential property between houses and apartments is identical to Melbourne’s, rather than gather Brisbane-specific data.


Calling the tax a “poorly considered” policy, the CEO said that the Greens have made some “disturbing” assumptions.

“Brisbane is significantly different to Melbourne, and so any calculations based on the assumption that these two cities are identical is clearly flawed.

“Based on our calculations, the likely revenue would be vastly less, not in the hundreds of millions, as the Greens would have you believe.”

Ms Mercorella said that a third of Queenslanders rent their home and that the market relies very heavily on private landlords providing rental accommodation.

“This policy is written for a tight rental market where vacancies are low, but Brisbane’s vacancy rate is 3.6 per cent, and this market offers many affordable options for renters.

“Anything that is a massive disincentive to owning property will result in investors moving their money elsewhere. The majority of property investors in Queensland are mum-and-dad investors who are planning for their retirement. Why are the Greens focused on punishing them?”


Ms Mercorella said that real estate is one of the state government’s single biggest revenue sources, and the profession employs around 34,000 Queenslanders.

She also criticised the Greens’s plan to ban no-fault tenancy terminations.

“Their assault on property owners is unceasing and they are trying to paint the everyday property investor as some kind of Dickensian greedy fat-cat slumlord out to rip off the hapless tenant.

“Landlords want good tenants and want long-term relationships to minimise turnover and ensure longer-term security for their investment.”

Ms Mercorella said that a vacant property tax has been introduced in cities such as Paris and Vancouver, where populations are vastly bigger than Brisbane’s and rental accommodation is tight. The tax is also being implemented in some suburbs of Melbourne, at 1 per cent of the capital-improved value.

But the REIQ CEO said that the conditions in these larger, more densely populated cities is vastly different from Brisbane’s, adding that this type of policy is simply inappropriate.

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