Council Tax on Empty Homes Can Double

Local authorities have now the power to double council tax rates on properties that have been empty for two years or more, according to the new legislation introduced today. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says it hopes that this decision will lead to thousands of empty properties across England being brought back into use.

Currently there are 200,000 long-term empty dwelling in England, compared to 300,000 in 2010. The number fell dramatically in 2013, when councils received the power to charge 50% premium on council tax bills. Now the government hopes that another intervention targeting the bills will produce a similar outcome.

“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 Local Government 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.”

Clear guidance has been published by the Government alongside the new legislation that states that councils should not penalise the owners of homes that are genuinely on the market for rent or sale. Exemptions are also in place for homes that are empty for a specific reason, such as the occupant going into care.

In addition, discounts will also apply where homes are empty due to special circumstances such as fire, flooding or hardship. Council tax exemptions already apply for homes that are empty while waiting for probate to be granted.

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