The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has called for VAT cuts to be extended for the renovation and repair of empty buildings.
The proposed move would offer a double benefit of reducing council waiting lists and boosting the refurb sector.
Local authorities have the power to issue Empty Dwelling Management Orders on properties that have been vacant for six months or longer.
Also, if a property has been empty for more than two years, the Government imposes 5 per cent VAT on any renovation and repair carried out.
Rics wants this 5 per cent rate extended to repair work on all buildings.
The institution predicts there are in excess of three quarters of a million empty homes in the UK and says that if they are repaired the Government could clear many of the 1.6 million households on council housing waiting lists.
RICS says property owners need incentives to repair homes and get them back on the market.
RICS policy officer, James Rowlands said: “Thousands of homes should not be allowed to stand empty while people are homeless or suffering from poor living conditions.
“The Government must use all its powers to bring these homes back into use by reducing VAT on repair of buildings and reinforcing council powers. Rather than allowing homes to sit empty, everyone should be able to celebrate Christmas in a home of their own.”