Empty homes could face a double council tax hike in a bid to bring them back into use, courtesy of new government legislation announced yesterday.
The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill aims to beef up existing powers to tackle the number of homes left without an occupier for two years or longer. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government move increases the premium charge of 50 per cent that was introduced in 2013.
The Big Issue has been calling for empty homes to be filled to dismantle poverty since 2015 when we launched our Fill ‘Em Up campaign.
Whilst allowing councils to charge double council tax on some empty homes is a welcome recognition of a problem that needs tackling, it is unlikely to be enough to deter some wealthy buy-to-leave buyers who could simply shrug off the sum
The number of dwellings left empty for six months dropped from just over 300,000 in 2010 to 205,293 by 2017, albeit a small rise from the 200,145 recorded a year previously. The current level sits well below the 318,642 unoccupied homes when records began in 2004.
“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,” said Richmond MP and housing minister Rishi Sunak.
“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 anti-social behaviour.”