L.A. Eyes New Vacancy Tax

Landlords who leave homes vacant for an extended period of time could be subject to a new tax if the Los Angeles City Council has its way.

City leaders have asked staff to explore options for an “empty homes penalty” or vacancy tax, the Los Angeles Times reports. It would have to be approved by voters. The goal is to make more existing housing available, get people off the streets, and possibly encourage a reduction in rents.

“In a time when people are sleeping on our streets … we have 111,000 homes in Los Angeles” that are empty, said Councilman Mike Bonin, as quoted by the Times. “We need to take action to put those homes back on the rental market.”

The idea is supported by affordable housing advocates and tenants’ rights groups. But Daniel Yukelson, executive director of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, finds its premise completely illogical.

“Why would any owner want to keep their units vacant — so that they cannot collect rent?” he asked.

The majority of vacant housing is left empty so that it can undergo minor renovations, he added.

“It is just one more example of poorly thought out housing policy that will only cause more property owners to want to exit the business.”


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