Empty homes should pay double council tax

The Local Government Association has urged for councils to have the powers to double the rate of extra council tax on empty homes and bring thousands of empty properties back into use.

A proposed amendment to the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill could provide councils with the power to increase the empty homes premium thresholds on council tax bills for homes left empty for between two and five years from 50 per cent to up to 100 per cent. If peers back the amendment, councils would be able to increase the premium by up to 200 per cent for homes empty for between five and 10 years and up to 300 per cent for homes empty for 10 years or more.

Alongside this, the LGA also says that the government should ensure all areas of the country can borrow to invest and keep 100 per cent of receipts from properties sold through Right to Buy to replace homes and reinvest in new housing.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said: “At a time when we face a chronic housing shortage across the country it is wrong for so many homes to be left empty. Councils work hard to address the issue but the existing powers open to them are complex and difficult to use. Providing councils with the ability to charge more for empty homes would be a hugely positive measure which will enable councils to incentivise owners of long-term empty homes to bring them back into use. Bringing empty homes into use is just one aspect of our housing problems.

“Councils need to play a leading role in solving our housing crisis. For that to happen, all councils should be able to borrow to build and keep 100 per cent of the receipts of any Right to Buy homes that are sold to boost the supply of genuinely affordable homes with the necessary infrastructure.”

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