Councils Gain Stronger Powers To Tackle Homes Left Empty
Councils all over England will now have the ability to charge even greater Council Tax premiums on properties left empty for many years, following an amendment to a government bill.
Introduced in March of this year, this legislation originally contained a provision for councils to double the rate of tax on properties that had been empty for 2 years or more.
The government is currently taking further action and introducing an amendment that would give councils the power to triple the council tax on homes left empty for 5-10 years and quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade.
Homes that have been empty for between 2 and 5 years would still be subject to the Council Tax bill being doubled under the proposal.
Secretary of State for Communities James Brokenshire MP said: “We’re determined to do everything we can to ensure our communities have the housing they need.
“That’s why we’re giving councils extra flexibility to increase bills and incentivise owners to bring long-standing empty homes back into use.
“By equipping councils with the right tools to get on with the job, we could potentially provide thousands more families with a place to call home.”
Councils will be able to use funds from the premium to keep Council Tax levels at a low level for hard working families.
Currently, there is roughly over 200,000 homes empty for 6 months or more in England, compared to 300,000 in 2010. This number has reduced drastically since 2013 after councils were given powers to charge a 50% premium on council tax bills.
The majority of councils have introduced 50% premiums on long-term empty homes. Where councils have applied the premium consistently every year, there has been a 9% fall in the number of homes being charged the premium.
To guarantee the proposed new powers are not used to unfairly punish those facing difficult circumstances, the government has also announced today that it will publish revised guidance for councils on the use of premiums. This will also take into account issues relating to low-demand areas and ensure it does not obstruct complex regeneration schemes.
The shift is one of many measures introduced by the government to fix the country’s broken housing market. Through an ambitious package of long-term reform and targeted investment, government is ensuring communities have the homes that they need.