The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill is up before the House of Lords today. An amendment to the bill would allow councils to increase the empty homes premium thresholds on council tax from 50% up to 100% for homes which have been left empty for between two and five years.
If a home has been left empty for between five and 10 years then councils would be able to ramp the premium to up to 200%, or up to 300% for homes left empty for a decade or more.
The Local Government Association (LGA) pointed out that councils work with owners of empty homes to encourage them to bring those properties back into use, but as they are generally privately owned, this involves a lot of work with voluntary groups, private owners and government bodies.
The LGA also called on the government to allow councils to keep 100% of the receipts from properties sold through Right to Buy in order to replace homes and reinvest in new housing.
Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said that given the “chronic housing shortage” across the country it was wrong for so many homes to be left empty.
He continued: “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.”