Amanda Balmer

90,000 Sydney homes vacant as owners cash-in on tax breaks

DESPITE its reputation as Australia's most notoriously unaffordable city, up to 90,000 homes are intentionally kept empty across Sydney.

The findings are the bizarre consequence of government tax incentives that can mean investors make more money by leaving the highly-desirable properties empty rather than have someone living inside and paying rent.

The analysis has been done by the University of New South Wales' City Futures Research Centre, reported by Fairfax Media.

Researchers told Fairfax how "leaving housing empty is both profitable and subsidised by government".

"This is taxation lunacy and a national scandal."

The research suggests those who have bought in Sydney's most sought-after areas including The Rocks, Haymarket and the CBD, were focused on increasing the value of their properties, not on rental payments.

By sacrificing that rent, the losses were subsidised through tax writeoffs including negative gearing.