Parliament rejects calls for vacant housing register, tax
Luxembourg's parliament this week voted down three opposition motions aimed at better regulating vacant housing units and building lands as the country faces a worsening housing crisis, with many Luxembourgers opting to move beyond the borders.
A motion tabled by the left-wing Déi Lénk to create a register for vacant dwellings and to know for how long they have been empty was voted down by lawmakers. Luxembourg, unlike Ireland for instance, does not have such a register.
Around 6% of the national housing stock, or around 15,000 units, are currently empty, government estimates show, with empty building land and slow construction also seen as drivers for a steep rise in housing prices. The country has the potential to build up to 80,000 housing units on land that is already classified as construction land.
Social democrats LSAP said a vacant dwelling register should be discussed in a closed-door committee session. Their proposal included imposing council tax on unused land and vacant houses and flats.
A further motion by the centre-right Christian Democrats calling on the government to immediately put back on the market unoccupied housing owned by the state was also voted down.
Parliament also rejected a motion urging the government to introduce a national tax in order to combat speculation on unoccupied real estate and unused building land.
Last year alone, housing prices rose by close to 17% - despite the pandemic - boosted by rapid population growth and the Grand Duchy's solid economy. According to a recent study by the OECD, each resident needs to work close to 16 years to buy a house in the Grand Duchy, with only New Zealand, Ireland and South Korea being more expensive in the group of wealthy nations.
Speculation is increasingly seen as a more problematic driver of house prices, making Luxembourg unaffordable for all but the best-paid, research bodies, politicians and pressure groups are saying.