Kyoto tax on vacant housing


Kyoto tax on vacant housing

Mismatches Vacant housing
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Main objectives of the project

The Kyoto municipal government implements a vacant home tax to combat the city's housing crisis, targeting unoccupied properties, including vacation homes and tourist rentals. With the tax set to be enforced in 2026, owners face increased tax bills, with exemptions for historically significant or lower-value properties. The tax aims to address housing shortages and declining population by encouraging property utilization.


  • 2026: Implementation
  • 2023: En proceso


  • Kyoto City Hall


Country/Region: Japan, Osaka [Kyoto]


Kyoto, renowned as one of the nation's premier travel destinations, boasts a considerable number of privately owned vacation homes. Moreover, unoccupied residences are not uncommon across Japan as a whole. Unlike many other countries, homeowners' associations in Japan are less stringent regarding a property's outward appearance. Moreover, vandalism rates remain low, and there's generally minimal intrusion from the homeless community, contributing to a relaxed attitude towards leaving homes unattended for extended periods. Consequently, it's not surprising for individuals to find themselves with vacant properties, especially in a city like Kyoto. However, despite this abundance of empty homes, Kyoto is grappling with a pressing housing crisis. Strict building regulations aimed at preserving its historical landscape have led to a shortage of available housing, prompting a significant exodus of younger residents who struggle to afford skyrocketing prices.

To address this crisis, the government has introduced a pioneering measure in Japan: a tax on vacant buildings and housing units. Approved by the central government in 2023, this vacant tax is slated for enforcement in 2026. he goal of this vacatio legis is to gove time to owners to either sell, rent or occupy their properties to avoid the tax. The message of the government is clear: the aim of the tax is not to increase public revenue, but to force a solution to the housing crisis.

Despite not being a prime goal, revenues from the tax are projected to be substantial, with an additional ¥950 million annually for the municipal budget. The tax itself will be calculated based on the value and location of the empty home, expected to be approximately half the standard homeowner/property taxes. Consequently, owners of unoccupied homes could see their tax burdens increase by around 50 percent. Notably, the tax structure is tailored to each unit, imposing higher taxes on luxurious real estate. For instance, the Kyoto municipal government estimates that a vacant 40-year-old apartment, struggling to find a buyer, would incur an annual tax of around ¥24,000, whereas a five-year-old condominium used sporadically as a vacation home could face an annual bill of approximately ¥939,000.

It's worth noting that the tax indirectly affects tourist apartments within the city. The definition of vacant houses encompasses those temporarily rented for tourism. However, there are exceptions. Homes of historical significance and those below a certain value are exempt from the tax. The government's rationale is that tourism contributes to the preservation of such buildings, thus warranting tax exemptions.

Given its pioneering nature, other cities in Japan are likely to monitor Kyoto's implementation of the vacant tax closely, with the potential for similar measures to be adopted elsewhere in the future.