Legislation for double council tax rate on empty homes announced
The government has introduced legislation that would allow English local authorities to charge double the rate of council tax on homes left empty for years in an attempt to bring them back into use.
The powers will see local authorities able to levy additional charges on homes that have been standing empty for two years or more.
Funds from the premium can be used to keep council tax levels down for working families, said the government.
Local government minister Rishi Sunak said: “It is simply wrong that, while there are 200,000 long-term empty properties across the country, thousands of families are desperate for a secure place to call home.
“This new power will equip councils with the tools they need to encourage owners of long-term empty properties to bring them back into use – and at the same time tackle the harmful effect they have on communities through squatting, vandalism and antisocial behaviour.”
In England, there are just over 200,000 long-term empty dwellings, down from 300,000 in 2010. Since the 2013, the number has fallen following the introduction of powers that enable councils to charge a 50 per cent premium on council tax bills.
Grant Lipton, co-founder of developer Great Marlborough Estates, said the tax is a “stealth tax looking to raise revenue on an issue that does not exist”.
“As the government’s own data proves, the idea of ‘lights-off London’ is largely a myth, with high demand areas such as the capital having fewer empty homes than other places in the country.”
Lipton said the government should instead be focusing on “removing barriers to development”, including championing small developers, “tactical” green belt release and “rethinking of onerous contributions that may not provide what the community actually wants”.
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