Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taipei government wants empty homes put to use

‘ENCOURAGEMENT’:Property owners would be able to register their units with the city, which would hold tenders for their management, Mayor Ko Wen-je said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei City Government has announced plans for a social housing program aimed at making 2,200 homes available by encouraging property owners to release vacant units for use starting from Jan. 1.

While a public housing rental project is still active, and the city expects about 12,000 new units to be completed by the end of next year, the program has not achieved its original goal, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said.

The city has discovered that more than 35,000 homes have been vacant for more than one year, which hopefully can be put to use as social housing units, Ko said.

“Many landlords are not willing to let out empty units for rent because they are afraid of trouble,” he said.

The mayor said the city hopes to tackle the issue through subletting and an entrusted management system.

Ko said property owners will be able to register their vacant units with the city, and the city government would hold a tender with four housing management agencies to sublet and manage the units while providing subsidies for the tenants.

The four agencies are Tsuei Ma Ma Foundation for Housing and Community Service (崔媽媽基金會), Yong Sheng Group’s Rental Housing Management (永勝租屋經理), Chao-Chi Management Consulting Company (兆基管理顧問) and Chamberlain Housing Management (大管家房屋管理).

The Construction and Planning Agency negotiated with the six special municipalities in the hopes of pushing forward the project and achieving at least 10,000 housing units, including 2,200 in Taipei, agency Deputy Director-General Wang Jung-ching (王榮進) said, adding that Taipei has made the fastest progress.

“Imposing vacant residential property taxes is certainly the most effective way [to make property owners lease empty units], but using punishment frequently is not good, so we want to use ‘encouragement with love’ in the first stage,” Ko said.

Taipei Department of Urban Development Commissioner Lin Jou-min (林洲民) said landlords that participate in the program will have their housing tax reduced from 1.5 percent to 1.2 percent and land value tax from 10 percent to 2 percent, and they could start receiving rent the month they join the program, regardless of whether their unit has been leased.

Registration for landlords interested in joining the program opened on Oct. 31, he added.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Teng Chia-chi (鄧家基) said the city is encouraging property owners to take advantage of the opportunity to lease their empty units rather than engage in property speculation, and that the landlords will be promised at least three years rent, refurbishment rewards and three years of home insurance.

Reaching the 2,200-unit mark is only the first phase, Teng said, adding that the city will continue to push policies to normalize its rental market so that young, elderly and underprivileged people can have affordable housing.

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