Council tax on empty homes in Preston set to double

Owners of empty properties in Preston will see a hike in their council tax bills as the city authority adopts Government policy to help counter the housing crisis.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 1:06 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 2:12 pm
The changes hope to bring empty homes back into use faster

It comes as central administration allows local councils more flexibility to increase bills further, with the aim that it will motivate owners to bring long-standing empty homes back into use.

The changes, voted in at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, mean that Preston City Council (PCC) will have the power to double the rate of Council Tax on properties empty for two years or more as of April 1, 2019.

Further amendments have also been introduced for future years, allowing councils to triple the Council Tax on homes left empty for five to ten years and to quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade.

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Introducing the policy to members of the council, coun Martyn Rawlinson said: “This is an opportunity to increase charges to empty homes. The policy is designed to discourage leaving homes empty.

“Many of the empty homes are owned by multiple property owners who can afford the extra. It really is not acceptable to have a house empty when there’s a housing crisis.”

Coun James Hull, who represents St Georges, said: “It’s a national scandal that people are leaving homes empty while people can’t afford to rent properties. Empty homes have a massive impact on the area. It’s outrageous that people should be able to let houses lay empty.”

In support of this legislation Secretary of State for Communities, MP James 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.

“Councils will be able to use funds from the premium to keep Council Tax levels down for hard working families.”

* There are certain situations where the owner of a property might be exempt from the additional charge.