Tuesday, 01 September 2015

Councils should 'quadruple' tax on empty homes

The UK government’s empty homes tsar has said councils should be able to quadruple the council tax on vacant properties as a punishment to owners who leave them derelict.

George Clarke, who was appointed to advise the government on empty homes in April 2012, told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru conference today that he wanted to see greater sanctions for people who let homes sit empty.

‘I want to impose a penalty of council tax on empty homes,’ he said. ‘There is a way out now, people haven’t got an excuse. You’ve got low cost loan funds and empty homes officers so there is the willingness to do something.

‘It’s unpopular, but I want to quadruple the council tax on homes.’

He also spoke about the need to use the country’s existing homes, rather the build new ones.

‘We need to think differently about how we bring empty homes back into the community,’ he said.

‘I’m not against new build, I’m pro new build, but it’s a mess. We’re still building houses in the same way we did 100 years ago. It’s all so slow and takes a long time. We need to think about innovative ways of building houses.’

The Welsh Housing Bill, which is due to be published later this year, will contain a section on how to deal with the country’s empty homes.

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