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Will paying 50% more council tax get landlords ‘a return on their investment’?

A 50% council tax increase could be on the way for owners of empty properties across many parts of the country in an effort to bring long term vacant homes back into use.

Councils in various parts of the UK, including Cardiff, Coventry, Worcester, Doncaster, Burnley, Wakefield, Sefton, among others, are planning to remove the 50% council tax discount for unoccupied and unfurnished homes in an attempt to reduce the number of vacant properties.

Councils can charge a premium of up to 100% on properties left unoccupied or substantially unfurnished for more than a year.

Many councils view the idea of bringing empty homes back into use as a good way to address a high demand from renters and low availability of properties on the private rented market.

For example, in a bid to create additional housing stock across Sefton borough in the North West of England, Sefton Council is seeking feedback from private landlords regarding new legislation that could see council tax charges increase from 50% to 100% on homes that are left empty.

With around 645 vacant properties in Sefton that have been left empty for more than two years, the new legislation proposed by the council are looking to roll out the new payment policy from April 2019.

So is this fair?

Madalena Penny, director of lettings and property auction firm Penny Joseph, commented: “At first glance Sefton Council’s proposed legislation can appear detrimental to private landlords, by penalising them for vacant properties.

“However, if the policy is implemented fairly, it could lead to freeing up more homes to people in need of property, and help private landlords get a return on their investment.”

According to statistics by the ONS (Office of National Statistics), there are currently around 107,350 households in the private rented sector across Sefton.

Penny continued: “Sefton Council should understand, that there are a number of private landlords that have no choice when it comes to vacant property. In a number of cases, the need for extensive property maintenance along with tenant damage and rent arrears can leave properties without a tenant, due to financial problems.

“Not one size fits all, and each case should be looked at individually on an appeal basis. Perhaps with the additional revenue collected by the proposed legislation, Sefton Council can offer grants to refurbish properties left vacant and unfit for habitation.”

Poll: Do you share the view that bringing empty homes back into use is a good way to address high demand from renters and low availability of properties on the private rented market?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

  • icon

    How many council owned homes sit empty not just for months but often for yrs, in norwich we are charged 100% council tax from day one between lets, very unfair.

  • icon

    Same in Glasgow. A gap of 1 to 2 months should be allowed to cover voids and refurbishment. I had an appeal disallowed because the Council claimed a trashed bathroom with no usable w.c. didn't mean the flat was "uninhabitable"!

    John Cart

    The scumbags will, quite literally, say anything to get their greedy, grasping, thieving hands on money to which they should not be entitled, as in this case. They would pimp their mothers if they thought there was a shilling to be made.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    Bizarrely many of these empty properties are only as such due to the last tenants trashing the place.
    Many of these tenants were supplied by the Council!!!
    LL are unable to finance repairs etc following tenant trashing and though it may come as a surprise to Councils very few LL have access to a money tree!!
    Councils would do far better offering grants or extremely low interest loans in exchange for LL taking on council homeless but with the Council prepared to pay for all tenant damages.
    This as essentially a tenant would be destroying the facility that its loan to the LL had provided.
    It eould only take that property to be trashed again and the LL is back to square one!!
    No LL will take on cheap finance from a Council if everytime the property is trashed by Council homeless the LL has to borrow again to refurb.
    It would be a pointless exercise for the LL.
    So of course it remains empty.
    In such cases the LL concerned would probably be willing to sell to the Council who would then after repair utilise as social housing.
    Councils buying up these empty homes and refurbing as new social homes would make far more sense.
    Govt may have to assist here with CGT adjustments etc.
    But it surely CANNOT be right that there are over 650000 private empty properties in the UK

  • icon

    Have a single tenant in situ and you get 25% Discount. Have an empty property due to refurb and get 0% Discount, ask them to explain and they dont know, why because they know its theft and MPs told them too,. Thieves no other word for it.

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