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Greens launch plan to target vacant property and raise millions of dollars for public housing

6 December 2023

Property owners that leave a house vacant for more than 6 months would be liable to pay a new tax, under a Greens plan to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for public housing.

The Victorian Government will be legislating to apply a 1 per cent tax on the value of a vacant property, which could increase up to 3 per cent over three years.  

The Greens estimate that a similar tax applied across South Australia could raise up to $220 million a year or $880m over 4 years - enough to build 1,760 new homes. According to the 2022 census, there were 83,821 vacant properties in SA.

“We are in the middle of the worst housing crisis in generations. While we have tens of thousands of properties sitting vacant, we have people sleeping on the street and 16,000 people on the waitlist for social housing,” said the Greens Treasury Spokesperson, Robert Simms MLC.

“This Greens’ plan would have the capacity to significantly boost our public housing stock, while also discouraging owners from leaving their properties vacant. It’s clear that the status quo isn’t working and we need to do more to tackle this crisis. In addition to building more housing, the Government has a responsibility to free-up homes that have already been built.”

The Greens are investigating how best to legislate for such a tax in SA and will move on the plan when Parliament resumes next year.

How would the tax work?

  • The tax would be applied at the rate of 1 per cent of the total value of the vacant property in its first year and build up to 3% over three years (ie a $500,000 property is taxed $5,000 in first year, $10,000 in second consecutive year and then $15,000 in third consecutive year)
  • The tax would apply to property that is vacant for more than 6 months.
  • The cost of building a house is estimated to be $475,000 (ABS data).
  • The Greens estimation of $220m revenue is based on the assumption that the tax is applied to half of those properties vacant across the state (see below).
  • Exemptions would apply where there has been a genuine attempt to sell the property or the property has remained vacant for a valid reason (eg maintenance issues).


Total Vacant dwellings[1]

Unoccupied dwellings[2]

Less 50% to account for potential exemptions

Median Value[3]

Potential Vacancy Tax Revenue per annum

Metro Adelaide

83,821 across entire state




$131 million

Other areas

83,821 across entire state

46,826 (estimate based on total)



$89 million






$220 million


[1] Source: ABS,Key%20statistics,unoccupied%20dwellings%20on%20Census%20Night.

[2] Source: dataset based on ABS data

[3] Source: Valuer General