Senior Research Fellow Hidetaka Yoneyama
Broadly speaking, there are two types of empty house countermeasure: ones that promote the removal of problematic empty houses and ones that promote putting to good use empty houses which are still serviceable. When it comes to the latter, other than establishing an “empty house bank”, empty houses can be used to help revitalize city centers or revive new towns.
This study first lays out the current state of oft-cited countermeasures that municipalities have adopted to deal with empty houses, before analyzing the issues thereof and delving into the future directions of said countermeasures. At the same time, the study considers how empty houses have been dealt with in other countries.
In the future, it will be necessary to talk about methods of promoting empty-house removal which employ both the stick and the carrot and can deal with municipalities’ unique circumstances. Since vacant land is no longer eligible for the special exemption on real-estate tax for residential land, the removal of empty houses is greatly hindered. To address this problem, the gap between residential land and vacant lots in terms of real-estate tax must be shrunk in the future.
Because simply establishing an empty house bank is not effective enough, in order to promote use of empty houses it is imperative to have good operations, such as searching for new properties and meticulously responding to inquiries. As part of an effort to revitalize urban centers and breathe life into new towns, it will be necessary for empty house countermeasures to work in tandem with the concept of “compact cities”, which fundamentally shrink cities in this era of population decline.