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GOVERNMENT ACTS TO END EMPTY HOMES TAX UNFAIRNESS

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An end to the unfair exemption of certain long term empty homes from ...
An end to the unfair exemption of certain long term empty homes from

all council tax has been announced today by local government and

housing minister Hilary Armstrong.

Responding to a parliamentary question, Ms Armstrong said:

'One of the reasons why there is a hard core of unused empty

dwellings is the cost of owning them is relatively low. At present,

there is no council tax at all for the owners of dwellings which

require or are undergoing major repair works or structural

alterations.

'Long term empty properties create extra costs for councils because

they can encourage vandalism, crime, accumulation of rubbish, vermin

and a general nuisance. Exempt from council tax, the owners do not

make a contribution towards these costs and they also benefit from

other locally provided services like police and fire services.

'The government does not believe this is justified where a dwelling

has been exempt for more than a year.

'We have, therefore, amended the council tax regulations so that from

1 April 2000, any dwelling in England and Wales requiring or

undergoing major repair works or structural alterations which has

been exempt for more than a year, will be subject to the standard 50%

council tax attracted by other unoccupied dwellings.'

Notes

The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 1992 exempts certain classes

of dwelling from council tax. Class A exempts vacant dwellings

(dwellings which are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished) which

require or are undergoing major repair works to render them

habitable.

Class A also exempts dwellings which are undergoing structural repair

works which have not been substantially completed. There is no time

limit in which to commence repair works or to complete the repair

works once started. Once structural alterations are underway there is

no time limit in which to complete the alterations before the

exemption expires. This means there are no council tax costs incurred

when owning an empty home which requires or are undergoing repairs or

structural alterations.

The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) (Amendment) (No.2) Order 1999, SI

No. 1522, limits the period of exemption to one year after which the

standard charge for unoccupied dwellings will apply regardless of

whether the repairs or structural alterations have been completed.

In Wales, as from 1 July 1999, this matter will be the responsibility

of the National Assembly for Wales.

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