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Empty homes council tax consultation launched

by Craig Martin on 10 August, 2019

Changes to council tax charges in County Durham are being considered as a way of helping to bring long-term empty homes back into use.

Durham County Council is asking residents for their views on proposals to revise its policy on council tax charges for long-term empty properties, as part of its work to improve housing and tackle homelessness.

At present, a council tax premium of 50 per cent is charged on long-term empty properties, which is the term used to describe homes that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years.

However, the council is consulting over potential increases to the premium for properties that have been empty between two and five years to a maximum of 100 per cent. This is in line with new national government guidelines. It is also considering a potential premium of up to 200 per cent for properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than five years.

The premium is designed to provide a financial disincentive for absent landlords to retain long-term empty properties. It also aims to encourage the owners to either sell or rent these properties to help meet housing needs.

The introduction in April 2013 of the 50 per cent premium for properties empty for more than two years, saw the number of empty properties in this category fall by 33 per cent in the succeeding six months.

The consultation runs until Sunday, 6 October. To take part, visit www.durham.gov.uk/consultation.

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One Response

  1. Andrew Carey says:

    “The introduction in April 2013 of the 50 per cent premium for properties empty for more than two years, saw the number of empty properties in this category fall by 33 per cent in the succeeding six months.”
    Erm, no, that’s not what happened. What happened was a one-third reduction in the number of properties recorded as being long term empty on Council Tax records. That’s a big difference compared to the Council’s claim. We don’t know how many of them were previously recorded as long term empty in error – if it makes no difference to the charge, then why would a landlord bother updating the occupancy. The truth is we don’t know how many were truly empty and then brought back into use as a result of the change.
    And now we have a consultation in part based on misleading data. You couldn’t make it up. Much simpler to replace Council Tax with a land value tax paid by the owner.

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