Thousands of empty properties across England could be brought back into use if councils are allowed to double the rate of extra council tax on empty homes say local government leaders.
The Local Government Association’s Liberal Democrat Group backed an amendment to the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill to give councils the power increase the empty homes premium thresholds on council tax bills for homes left empty for five years or longer from 50 per cent to 100 per cent.
There are currently more than 200,000 empty properties in England. Councils work to encourage owners of empty homes to bring their properties back into use. As the majority of long-term empty properties are privately owned, this means also working with voluntary groups, private owners and government bodies to bring properties back into use. This includes providing advice and information, grants and loans and levying the existing empty homes premium through council tax.
Cllr Tim Pickstone, Bury’s Liberal Democrat Group Leader, 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.