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From New York to Hong Kong, what other cities around the world have done to curb absentee owners

In last November’s civic elections, one of the most popular campaign pledges came from Vancouver mayoral candidate Meena Wong, who pledged to “place a duty” on vacant properties in the city. The promise sparked immediate interest in a city where local real estate is increasingly in the hands of foreign buyers, and shone a spotlight on what other jurisdictions around the world are doing to prevent their housing stock from sitting empty.

In the past two years, Israel, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg have each enacted vacant property laws with one common goal: to alleviate an acute housing shortage for local citizens. Few jurisdictions impose a tax specifically on vacant property. Far more common is a carrot-and-stick approach that rewards owner-occupants with tax benefits while imposing additional costs on foreign and non-resident transactions.

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