Council Tax premium proposal to help tackle issue of long-term empty homes

Published: Tuesday, 14th January 2020

Homeowners who have properties that have been empty for five years or more will face having to pay triple the normal rate of Council Tax under a policy set to be discussed by Cabinet on January 21.

The proposal is part of the council’s effort to get as many empty homes into use as possible, given the city has a need for 89,000 new homes in the two decades to 2031.

If approved, it would follow the introduction of a related policy last year, which saw the Council Tax on homes left empty for more than two years set at double the normal rate – with this latest proposal designed to tackle the problem of long-term vacancies.

The report due before Cabinet reveals that 2,257 homes are set to be affected by the premium overall. Last year, when the 100 per cent (double rate) premium was introduced, a total of 1,888 homes were affected. There are, therefore, an estimated 369 properties affected by the 200 per cent (triple rate) premium.

Under the original 50 per cent premium which has been in place since 2013 the council generated around £1.15million per year by 2018/19 in additional Council Tax income for use on essential day-to-day services, which doubled for the 2019/20 financial year under the 100 per cent premium.

Next year it is anticipated that an additional £0.5million will be generated with the introduction of the 200 per cent premium, reflecting the prediction that those with empty properties will look to finally get them back into use.

Cllr Tristan Chatfield, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “We have a housing crisis locally, regionally and nationally, whilst local councils have suffered a decade of funding cuts.

“That has made it increasingly difficult for us to meet the needs and expectations of citizen, but this proposed policy is one way in which we can partially redress the balance, by incentivising property owners who are sitting on homes with no obvious intended us to get them back into circulation for people that are in need of a roof over their heads.

“For those who don’t take any action, we will be in a position to bill them and use the income that is generated on the services that people desperately need on a day-to-day basis. This policy strike a good balance and I hope it sees more homes come back into use.”


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