Proposal to allow councils to tax empty homes
The government is proposing to give councils the power to charge extra council tax on homes which have lain empty for more than two years.
Andrew Stunell, communities minister, told delegates at the Liberal Democrat conference today that the government would consult on letting local authorities raise extra money by taxing some of 700,000 empty homes across the country.
Mr Stunell said that there were 300,000 homes which have been empty for more than six months – equal to two years’ new housing supply – and said bringing them back into use was a Liberal Democrat priority.
Mr Stunell said: ‘That’s why today I can announce that we will shortly be consulting on whether councils should be given the power to charge extra council tax on homes in their area that have been empty for more than two years, through an empty homes premium.
‘Discretionary, naturally. Localist, certainly. With essential safeguards and exemptions, of course. But a nudge to owners to bring abandoned homes back into use.
‘An extra weapon in a council’s armoury in the battle to make better use of our housing stock.
‘The premium will act as a spur for landlords to bring their properties back into use quickly.
‘And where they don’t, it will provide an extra revenue stream for Local Authorities to plough back into bringing more homes back into use.’
Mr Stunell also revealed that in the coming weeks he would be releasing details of the government’s £100m empty homes programme.
The minister said it would kick start the reuse of empty homes and would open the door to bids from councils, housing associations and other providers for work which would start in April 2012.
Mr Stunell said: ‘It will make the case for one of the most efficient housing investments we can make: giving us more homes per pound, more jobs per home, and plenty of training opportunities too.
‘And of course I want to see local authorities getting to grips with the empty homes in their areas.
‘Already, the New Homes Bonus will apply to Empty Homes, so councils will receive six years worth of council tax per home. £9,000 or so.’