Duncan Lewis

Residential Property

Commercial Property

Those landlords and second home owners who left their properties empty for more than two years are to face a new penalising tax regime.

Date: (29 May 2012)    |    

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The proposals would allow the local authorities to raise an extra £420 million a year in Council Tax from homes left vacant for two years and second homes which are used only for weekends.
The home owners who currently claim discounts for under use would be paying empty home premiums as penalty for keeping their homes empty.
According to a government estimate more than a million homes stood empty for too long, Andrew Stunnel the Lib Dem communities’ minister said, the scourge of empty homes could clear half the families from council waiting lists.
He said that the empty homes were a blot for the communities and a waste of much needed housing. It was madness that councils were forced to offer discounts on empty and second homes, which were oblivious of local circumstances and provide an incentive to leave homes vacant indefinitely.
To counter falling council tax revenues to pay for services councils have urged the government to bring in the new charge regime.
Places such as Cornwall and the Lake District communities which have holiday homes are empty while councils struggled to find the cash to pay for essential services.
In the previous year 246,000 properties were eligible for a second home discount of 10 to 50% which cost councils around £42 million.
Cornwall was losing around £2 million a year to the second home owner discounts. Leeds City Council was the biggest local authority losing on empty homes with an £8.5 million year of tax shortfall.
Nationally councils were losing up to £382 million in taxes every year.
Stunnel has said that landlords who left their properties empty for too long would be penalised hard by increasing of Council Tax they pay on houses and flats.