If ever there was an argument for the introduction of a proper Land Value Tax (LVT) it is this.
The Independent reports that according to the Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) the number of squatters has increased from 9,500 in 1995, to 15,000 in 2003 and now up to 22,000.
Many of these new squatters though aren’t your traditional dead-beats. They are young upwardly mobile professionals who realise that squatting can be the answer.
As the recession bites fewer people have the wherewithal to buy their own homes and many more lack even the financial ability to rent. Landlords and owners it seems are more likely to leave the property empty in the hope of finding the right tenant/buyer rather than take a hit on the sale price / rent.
As the scale of the problem increases it is also moving out of London and the cities.
Squatters are now much more legally aware. They know that squatting is legal in England and Wales as long as entry was not forced. They also know that the owner has to then become aware of them and take action through the courts to evict them, no strong arm tactics allowed. The action taken by squatters can be especially strong if they display a ‘Section 6’ notice.
Also, if they manage to remain there for 12 years or more without the owner exercising their rights then the squatter can effectively take legal possession of the property and the true owner can then do nothing about it.
Squatting generally occurs where a property has been identified as empty, entry can be easily gained and then the property made secure for the squatter(s) to remain.
Property remains unoccupied only if the landlord or owner can afford to let it lie empty. Therefore a good incentive to use land efficiently would be to tax it. Of course those that own their own houses will now wail and screech, but with a proper overhaul of the system and a zero-sum approach other taxes could be reduced.
The outcome would not be more tax but more efficient use of available land. Remember, no-one is manufacturing more land at the moment! So we need to make the best use of what we’ve got!
More on LVT HERE.
You may also be interested in the Land Value Taxation Campaign. They “ … propose that the rental value of land should be collected and used as the principal source of public revenue, as a replacement for present taxes on wages, profits, goods and services. This policy mitigates and may even eliminate chronic economic problems.”
Much food for thought.