New Delhi, Sept. 22: If you happen to be one of those who own multiple homes, don’t leave them vacant. Not when the country is short of nearly 19 million houses.
The government is planning steep taxes on those who own multiple houses that are lying vacant as part of efforts to bring such dwellings “in the market” and reduce the deficit.
According to a report released by the housing and poverty alleviation ministry, some 11 million houses are lying vacant across the country.
“We have to bring these vacant houses in the market. For that we will have to offer incentives and impose taxes,” housing minister Kumari Selja said, adding that states need to make the “archaic” rent control act “friendlier” so that these houses can “easily be rented out”.
Amitabh Kundu, who headed a technical group on urban housing shortage for 2012-17, said most of these vacant houses were owned by middle and upper income groups. “But we do not have data about the cost and size of these vacant houses,” the JNU professor added. The panel presented its report today.
The 11 million vacant houses account for a sizeable chunk of the 58.83 million houses in India and over 50 per cent of the shortage, a term which has been used to describe situations like:
Not owning a house
Living in “congested” homes where, for example, a married couple have to share a room with an adult
Houses that are dilapidated or above 80 years old.
Most of the vacant properties are either private houses, which their owners may have bought purely as investment, or have been constructed by builders who haven’t sold them yet.
The report, however, claimed the deficit had come down from an estimated 24.7 million during the eleventh plan (2007-12). “This is a huge achievement because we were expecting it to increase. This has happened because the housing stock has increased while the growth of households have not,” Selja said.
According to the report, the housing shortage among the economically weaker sections (EWS) is 56 per cent, while that for the lower income group (LIG) is 40 per cent. In the last five-year plan, the corresponding figures were 88 per cent and 11 per cent. “This means there has been upward mobility. People who were in EWS category now aspire for LIG houses,” Selja said.
For the middle income group and above, the shortage is just 4.3 per cent (0.82 million).
The report said seven states account for 60 per cent of the country’s housing shortage. The technical group has suggested houses over 80 years old be demolished and new structures built in their place.