Stronger powers for councils to tackle empty homes

James Brokenshire has confirmed that councils across England will have more powers to charge even greater council tax premiums on homes left empty for many years.

Following an amendment to a government bill introduced in March, the government is now introducing an amendment that will allow councils to triple the council tax on homes left empty for five to 10 years and quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade.Homes which have been empty for between two and five years would still be subject to the council tax bill being doubled under the proposal.

It is believed that there are just over 200,000 homes empty for six months or more in England, with this number having reduced dramatically since 2013 after councils were given powers to charge a 50 per cent premium on council tax bills. Where councils have applied the premium consistently every year, there has been a nine per cent fall in the number of homes being charged the premium.

Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Communities, said: “We’re determined to do everything we can to ensure our communities have the housing they need. That’s why we’re giving councils extra flexibility to increase bills and incentivise owners to bring long-standing empty homes back into use. By equipping councils with the right tools to get on with the job, we could potentially provide thousands more families with a place to call home.”

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