New Zealand was recently in the news due to soaring house prices (highest 20 year increase in the OECD) despite a foreign buyer ban and a nearly complete ban on new immigrants since March 2020. Logically speaking this thus means that two root causes remain:

  1. Not enough homes for the existing population. NZ is working on public housing to solve part of this shortage and many other countries have similar programs to encourage more construction. An even better solution would involve reforming the zoning regulations like Japan did but currently that's not very popular in the West.
  2. People owning second/third/etc homes which they rent out or leave vacant

Are there any countries where secondary home ownership is either entirely banned or where its very difficult?

  • Related: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/18444/… Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 2:30
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    Lots of comments deleted. Please remember what comments on questions are for. Side-discussions which are not aimed at improving the question are an unnecessary distraction. Please avoid them.
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 13:09
  • Your question mentions a limit on foreign buyers and then you ask about second home ownership? Is that what you really want to know? If you ask about bans on ownership by non resident foreign citizens you would find a lot more.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 13:00
  • @FluidCode no, I’m interested in secondary home bans for local citizens. Foreigner bans are indeed common. Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 15:50
  • IIRC Rojava uses a model where house ownership is tied to use. Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 21:39

3 Answers 3


Some jurisdictions, such as localities in British Columbia, Canada, impose a tax on residential real estate that is unoccupied for the majority of the year, in order to address the issues identified in the question.

In some places, this is called a pied-a-terre tax, which is a name for infrequently occupied residences that one maintains for convenience (either as an individual or as corporate property for its employees and agents while on business trips) someplace other than the owner's main base of operations.

I am not aware of any jurisdiction where secondary home ownership is outright banned, but Singapore (which is basically a tiny city-state) comes close. Until recently, the vast majority of the housing stock in Singapore was publicly owned and rented from the government to individual families. Since then, Singapore's government has granted more rights to public housing renters which it characterizes as mass home ownership. But the rights of these tenants still falls far short of the property rights of property owners in common law and civil law countries in the Western world. As a result, it is very difficult to own a second home in Singapore compared to other countries.

Similar issues arise in Vatican City, which is a nominally sovereign city-state owned by the Roman Catholic Church, whose residents are mostly clergy who are bound to vows of personal poverty.

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    I assume that Singapore is so small that there's no reason to want two homes? Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 9:49
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    Aren't Vatican residents provided housing by the Church as part of their employment? At least the clergy, that is. I think the non-clergy residents (Swiss Guard, maintenance staff and their families) may be a different story. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 12:45
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    Where I live in the US, you are also charged more for taxes. The way they do it is you only have to pay half the property tax if it is your full-time residence. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 14:27
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    Ada county in Idaho. I'm pretty sure it is a common thing in the US. Here it is called the "Homeowner Exemption". What it amounts to is we charge twice the tax on land-lords as we do on owner-occupiers. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 21:31
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    @user253751 There are plenty of people who have more than one home in the same large city.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 23:46

Soviet-influenced countries, back when USSR was a thing.

I know the regulations did vary between countries, but the essence was the same: a single residental property per family.

In my home Bulgaria, (relatively) wealthy families falsely divorced in order to be allowed to get a second apartment.

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    I'm not sure this fits since a planned economy goes far beyond what OP is asking about. At least in East Germany, people were not allowed to just buy any residential property. There were programs to build your own house but of course the issue was then to get building materials. Since there were never enough appartments and it was a planned economy, there were criteria for being allowed to rent an appartment and certainly a family couldn't have two homes.
    – Roland
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 13:45
  • Don't know about Bulgaria, but in the USSR itself you could buy and own a second property (subject to quite strict limitations). Co-op apartments and private houses were owned by the residents. Housing was scarse and vast majority of people rented from the government, so buying a co-op apartment or your own house would terminate the rent. But, anecdotally, my grandmother had been living in her own old house when she bought the co-op, and she had kept the house. Owning two properties was very rare but it was not banned.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 3:47
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    @Quassnoi Of course, "banned" had its nuances and some people were more equal than others.
    – fraxinus
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 8:12

Switzerland has restrictions on building secondary homes, but they are pretty lax: Federal act on second homes, constitution art. 75b. Basically the proportion of second homes is limited to 20%, per commune.

  • But you can still buy new secondary homes in communes where the 20% threshold is met, correct? Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 2:07
  • @JonathanReez No, when the threshold is met, it becomes very difficult to buy/build a home as a secondary home. It might still be possible with some legal tricks, but in principle it's not allowed. It's still possible to trade without restrictions the homes built before the threshold was met, but any new ones can't be converted to second homes.
    – Nobody
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 6:48

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