Government agrees to tax vacant houses extra

by Deborah Cater
Vacant houses to be taxed extra in Spain
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MADRID – The coalition government parties PSOE and Unidos Podemos reach an agreement in principle on the basis of which municipalities can tax homeowners with more than four vacant houses extra.

A future housing law should enable municipalities in such cases to calculate a surcharge of up to 50% of IBI, the property tax. The aim is to bring empty properties in Spain back onto the housing market and to reduce the increasing pressure on rents. Unidos Podemos argued for a more far-reaching measure that included a new state tax on vacant homes. However, ultimately they yielded to PSOE’s proposal for a surcharge on the property tax.

Local property law introduced in 2004 included the extra taxation possibility. However, due to the lack of a homogeneous definition at the state level of the concept of vacant housing, it was not devleoped. The definition they will now use is “homes that have been vacant for more than two years, with a minimum of four homes per owner, subject to justified causes of temporary vacancy, assessed by law”.

Need to settle issue at national level

Specifying the definition of vacant houses in state law prevents courts from overturning the attempt by some municipalities to introduce this surcharge, as has happened so far. Case law shows the need to settle this issue with a government regulation.

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The revised text of the local property law generally refers to “properties for residential use that are permanently vacant.” And according to Article 72 of the revised text of the law, “municipalities may require a surcharge of up to 50% of the liquid tax quota”. They can also, within this limit, “determine by tax ordinance a single or multiple levies, depending on the length of the period that the real estate is vacant “.

Evictions

In the field of evictions, socialists and the purple group also continue to exchange views to finalise a proposal. The aim is to provide housing alternatives to vulnerable families, with means of resettlement: “either municipal, regional, state-funded or with the rest of the administrations or with the private sector, avoiding emergencies resulting from forced eviction” .

Therefore, the aim is to establish “objective criteria” in the procedure to determine situations of economic vulnerability. They also want to simplify and streamline the procedure and to identify situations that could be resolved by the new measures.

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