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Iranian parliament toughens rules on empty home tax

Iranian parliament moves to force owners of empty houses to let them amid a rental shortage.

The Iranian parliament has ratified a motion to allow the government to impose hefty taxes on owners of empty homes.

The official IRNA agency said in a report that the Sunday legislation would toughen the rules governing a vacancy tax bill adopted in the chamber in 2015 to help fight a rental shortage in big cities in Iran.

The report said owners of empty houses would be forced to pay up to two times the sum of monthly rents for their properties if they do not let them after six months of vacancy.

Empty flats and apartments would be identified through a new online system set up by Iran’s Ministry of Road and Urban Development and run by the country's tax office.

“We should use strong deterrent measures if we want to force someone to bring back a residential unit into the housing market,” said Hosseinzadeh Bahraini, a senior lawmaker of the Iranian parliament.

Under the new taxation rules, if owners of empty houses refuse to rent out their property in successive years, they would face an additional tax of up to 50 percent of the duties they owe.

Hosseinzadeh said the new parliament legislation would also force government departments and municipalities to provide the tax office with any data they have about empty homes.

The new law comes amid soaring rental prices in large cities in Iran as experts point to a crisis of unaffordability plaguing the country’s housing market.

Surveys carried out last year by government’s statistics agency shows there are more than 2.5 million vacant houses, or 10 percent of the total number of properties, in Iran.

The figure is around 13 percent for the capital Tehran, a city of more than eight million which has over 2.5 million houses.  

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