Council tax to double on empty homes

28 March 2018
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Owners of properties left vacant for two years or more could see their council tax double.

The government is introducing new legislation allowing councils to raise the amount it charges on empty homes in England.

While the number of empty homes across the UK has fallen by a third since 2010, there are 11,000 properties which have been empty for a decade or more, according to research earlier this year by the Liberal Democrats. 

Data revealed by a LibDem Freedom of Information request found just 19 councils across England Wales had used an Empty Dwelling Management Order, which allows council to take over residential properties left empty for six months or more, in the past five years. 

It is estimated that there are 200,000 properties across the country classed as long-term empty – down from 300,000 in 2010.

The number fell dramatically after councils were given powers in 2013 to charge 50% premium on council tax bills for empty properties. Some 291 of 326 councils applied an empty homes premium between 2017 and 2018.

Now new powers are being brought in to try to fix the ‘broken’ housing market in England. The government says councils will be able to use proceeds from the increased tax to keep rates down for working families.

Rishi Sunak, local government minister, says: “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.”

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