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First councils make use of new empty homes powers

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 Birmingham City Council is set to double council tax for landlords of empty homes, under plans to be considered by councillors next week.

The authority is one of several making 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% of the normal rate on homes 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.

Allerdale BC councillors yesterday 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.

However, on Tuesday Birmingham will vote on plans to charge council tax at 200% on homes empty for just two years or more.

Birmingham City Council said it hopes the charge will help bring back into use 1,888 properties in the city that have been empty for at least two years.

Leader 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 £1.15m per year in council tax revenue.

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