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Stronger powers for councils to tackle empty homes announced

Words: Laura Edgar
Empty homes / Shutterstock_354022925

The government has introduced an amendment to its empty homes legislation that will allow councils to triple council tax for homes left empty for five to 10 years.

The legislation was initially introduced in March 2018 and would allow English councils to charge double the rate of council tax on homes left empty for two years or more.

The government wants to bring such homes back into use.

The amendment will still mean the council tax for homes that stand empty for two to five years will still be double. Between five and 10 years, it can triple, while if a property should be empty for more than 10 years, the bill can be quadrupled.

The government explained that councils will be able to use the funds raised from such measures to keep council tax down for other residents.

In England, there are at least 200,000 homes that have been empty for six months or more, compared with 300,000 in 2010, says the government.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire 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.”

Guidance has also been published to ensure that those facing issues, such as being in a low-demand area, are not unfairly punished.

The amendment was made during the third reading of the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill in the House of Lords on 18 July.

Image credit | Shutterstock