Expansion of scheme to provide land tax exemptions in return for affordable rentals welcomed

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and ACT Shelter today welcomed the announcement by the ACT Government of the indefinite extension of land tax exemptions for landlords who rent their properties through a community housing provider.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “Any measure to increase the supply of affordable housing in Canberra is very welcome. Canberra leads the nation in high rents, rental stress and low vacancy rates. This is an impossible equation for people on lower incomes who are simply looking for somewhere to call home. Appropriate, affordable housing is fundamental to wellbeing.

“To solve the ongoing affordable housing crisis in Canberra we need to see a multifaceted approach rather than a one-size-fits all solution. Creative and diverse solutions such as this scheme are a part of that.

“The indefinite extension of the land tax exemption for landlords who rent their properties at 75% or less of the market value makes the scheme more attractive to property owners weighing up its benefits. It provides assurance that it is a viable long-term property management option for their investment.

“However, this is one part of the broader solution that is required including more public housing and investment and support for community housing providers. Canberra’s community housing providers have shovel-ready projects but need access to affordable land, rates exemptions, inclusionary zoning and other planning supports,” said Dr Campbell.

Travis Gilbert, CEO ACT Shelter said: “In 2020 ACT Shelter commissioned the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of delivering more affordable and social housing in the ACT. It found there are more than 15,000 Canberra households paying more rent than they can afford or lacking a safe and secure place to call home entirely. This measure offers hope to 250 households, it’s a step in the right direction but we will continue to lobby for the land tax concession measure to be uncapped.”

ACT Shelter warned ACT Government needed to go much further to ease cost of living pressures that are hurting working families in the capital.

“The AHURI research clearly articulates there is a significant social return on investment when governments are brave enough to forego revenue by offering housing providers land at a discount to market, in return for caveats on title that ensure homes built on that land are retained as affordable and social rental stock in perpetuity.

“We know local community housing providers are ready and waiting to play a greater role in providing affordable, safe and secure homes to Canberrans failed by our city’s red hot housing market. We urge Treasury to do everything it can to ensure affordable and social housing projects stack up for them at scale. We are encouraged by the passage of the legislation and the faith shown by the Chief Minister and Minister Vassarotti in the role the Community Housing Industry and amateur landlords can play in easing cost of living pressures that are hurting the household budgets of Canberra’s hard working families,” Mr Gilbert concluded.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

ACT Shelter provides strategic advice and advocacy on housing policy issues that affect people with no, or on low to moderate incomes.

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