The amount of council tax that local authorities can charge on properties left vacant for ten years has been increased from 300% of the original tax band to 400%.
An amendment to the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill by housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire, which passed a third reading in the House of Lords yesterday, will allow councils to charge quadruple the normal bill for properties that have been empty for more than a decade, and triple the bill for homes that have been empty for more than five years.
Mr Brokenshire said: “We’re determined to do everything we can to ensure our communities have the housing they need. That’s why we’re giving councils extra flexibility to increase bills and incentivise owners to bring long-standing empty homes back into use.
“By equipping councils with the right tools to get on with the job, we could potentially provide thousands more families with a place to call home.”
Mr Brokenshire’s amendment followed an announcement made by chancellor Philip Hammond in the autumn Budget, when he said new legislation would give councils the power to charge a “council tax premium” on empty properties.
The charity Empty Homes reported in March that the number of unused properties on council tax databases had risen for the first time since 2008.
Director Helen Williams said increasing council tax may not achieve the government’s desired effect of reversing that trend however, as the owners of long-term empty properties will likely be able to afford the council tax increases.