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New council tax measures to "crack down" on long term empty homes

New council tax measures to "crack down" on long term empty homes

Strengthened 100% council tax premium on long term empty homes comes into force on 1 April, with councils able to spend the money from the next financial year.

In a decisive move to address the issue of long-term empty homes, the Department for Levelling Up has announced the enforcement of strengthened council tax rules set to commence on 1 April. This initiative aims to crack down on properties that have remained vacant for extended periods, directly impacting the availability of affordable housing for local families and individuals.

Under the new regulations, the council tax premium on properties left empty for more than 12 months will be doubled, a significant reduction from the current two-year threshold. This measure is designed to encourage homeowners to bring these properties back into use, thereby increasing the housing stock available for rent or purchase within local communities.

Minister for Local Government, Simon Hoare, expressed the government's intent behind the reform, stating, "Long term empty properties are shutting local families and young people out of the housing market as they are being denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community. So, we are taking action as part of our long-term plan for housing." Hoare's remarks underscore the government's commitment to ensuring that more suitable homes are available in the right locations, aligning with the broader objective of enhancing housing accessibility and affordability.

Furthermore, the updated policy grants local councils the authority to impose the tax premium on second homes starting from the next financial year. This could potentially generate significant revenue to support public services or contribute to maintaining lower overall council tax bills for residents.

A public consultation has led to the establishment of a limited number of exceptions to the rule, aimed at ensuring fairness for homeowners. Exceptions include properties undergoing extensive renovation, second homes restricted by planning regulations, and inherited homes, offering some relief to homeowners under specific circumstances.

These changes are part of a broader government strategy focused on housing, which includes reforms to regulate short-term lets and prevent the displacement of residents from their local areas. The overarching goal is to unlock more homes to meet the country's housing needs, supported by a £10 billion investment and a target to deliver one million homes within this Parliament.

The introduction of these measures represents a significant step towards revitalising communities and ensuring that every property contributes to the local housing market. By addressing the challenge of long-term empty homes, the government aims to create more vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable communities across the country.


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