100% council tax premium for long term empty homes comes into force next month

The Department for Levelling Up has confirmed that the new rules which will see council tax doubled on long-term empty properties will come into force from the 1st of April this year.

Related topics:  Finance,  Government,  Council Tax
Property | Reporter
12th March 2024
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"Long-term empty properties are shutting local families and young people out of the housing market as they are being denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community"
- Simon Hoare - Minister for Local Government

The rules will apply when a property has been empty for 12 months, rather than the current two years and are part of the government’s long-term plan for housing

Councils will be given new powers to introduce the tax premium on second homes in their area from next year, bringing in millions more for public services or keeping overall council tax bills down.

The Department for Levelling Up today confirmed a very limited number of exceptions have been set out following a public consultation, which will ensure the changes are fair to homeowners. These will apply to empty properties that are uninhabitable due to extensive renovation, second homes that are not available for use year-round due to planning restrictions or for up to a year on homes that have been inherited to prevent families who are grieving from having to pay.

The consultation response gives homeowners clarity so they can plan for the changes before they take effect, while councils will be able to budget for millions more to spend on public services.

This follows reforms to give councils greater power to control short-term lets by making them subject to the planning process which will protect people from being pushed out of their local areas, preventing a “hollowing out” of communities and ensuring local people can continue to live in the place they call home.

Minister for Local Government Simon Hoare said: “Long-term empty properties are shutting local families and young people out of the housing market as they are being denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community.

“So, we are taking action as part of our long-term plan for housing. That means delivering more of the right homes in the right places and giving councils more powers to help give local people the homes they need.”

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns, comments: "Propertymark has long called for action to tackle the number of empty homes to ensure they are utilised to meet housing needs and demand up and down the country.

"Whilst we welcome the focus from the UK Government on cracking down on long-term empty homes, it would be more effective to introduce a dedicated grant scheme alongside other incentives such as interest-free loans and a first-time buyer’s grant to support people to bring empty property back into use, rather than penalising them through higher council tax premiums until they do so.

"Where a similar policy has been introduced in Wales, we are yet to see a positive impact so policymakers must do more to fully understand the causes of why homes are left empty.”   

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