Councils to Increase Tax on Empty Properties

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Several UK councils are set to increase the level of council tax charged on empty properties.

They are due to make use of powers introduced last year which allow additional council tax charges to be levied on empty homes from 2019-20.

Councils may currently charge council tax at 150 per cent of the normal rate on empty properties which have been ‘unoccupied and substantially unfurnished’ for at least two years.

The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018, ratified last November, allows this to be increased the longer a property lies empty.

Birmingham City Council is set to double council tax for landlords of empty properties that have been unoccupied for two years or more, under plans to be considered by councillors next week.

Similarly, Allerdale Borough Council councillors have voted to double council tax on properties empty for at least five years and triple it on those empty for at least 10 years. Rotherham MBC and Kirklees Council have also recently agreed similar plans to further tax empty properties.

The leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward (Lab) said: ‘When you consider the size of the homelessness issue that Birmingham faces, it is only right we look at every possible option to get empty homes occupied once again.

‘The pressure this places upon us to look at costly alternatives such as bed and breakfast accommodation means those who own vacant properties should do their bit to help. This plan will go some way towards doing that.’

If the proposal is approved, Birmingham City Council said it expects to receive an extra £1.15 million per year in council tax revenue.

Further councils are expected to follow this lead and impose higher taxes on empty properties, so buy to let property investors will need to ensure that projects are on schedule.

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