A study of water use has found that more than 64,000 residential properties in Melbourne are rarely used, and over 12,500 seem completely unoccupied.
The Melbourne suburb of Southbank is the worst for vacancies percentage-wise, unless the residents of that suburb are particularly averse to taking showers!
Of over 4000 properties examined in Southbank, 328 used no water for the year, and 940 properties used less than 50 litres a day, compared to the Melbourne daily average of 419 litres a day.
Prosper Australia commissioned the analysis of water use, and are trying to change tax laws to make land use more efficient.
The Speculative Vacancies in Melbourne report looked at water use from the big water retailers in Melbourne.
Across the city, 1.4 properties were tested and 4.4 per cent showed water seldom used, indicating the properties or apartments were vacant.
The report suggested that property investment and speculation could be behind the findings, with investors buying property with only capital gain in mind.
“An investor may calculate it is profitable to purchase a property exclusively for the potential capital gains,” it said.
Karl Fitzgerald from Prosper Australia told The Age the results showed land wasn’t being used as efficiently as it could.
“We feel it is time the government looked seriously at this hidden housing supply,” he said.
“We are strong believers that stamp duty must be replaced with a land tax.”
REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said there were other possible reasons for vacant properties.
“In many suburbs people buy an old property and probably land bank until they get development approval for the townhouses or apartments,” he told The Age.
“There might be some people who just don’t want to lease out their properties; there might be other people who are holding them due to a long settlement.”
A representative from the Housing Industry Association said the low water use especially in Southbank might indicate a high number of serviced apartments or apartments held there by people living outside of Melbourne.