Higher council tax rates for empty properties from 1 April
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The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will introduce rules on 1 April that double the council tax payable on long-term empty properties.

The measures will come into force when a property has been empty for 12 months, rather than the two years that currently applies. Councils will be able to enforce the new rates from 2025.

Simon Hoare, Minister for Local Government, said: “Long-term empty properties are shutting local families and young people out of the housing market as they are being denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community.

“So, we are taking action as part of our long-term plan for housing. That means delivering more of the right homes in the right places and giving councils more powers to help give local people the homes they need.”

The government previously introduced reforms to give councils greater power to control short-term lets by making them subject to the planning process. This, ministers say, will help protect communities by allowing young people to continue to live in the places where they grew up.

A small number of exceptions will apply to the new council tax rules, for example when a property is uninhabitable because of extensive renovation or when second homes are not available for use year-round because of planning restrictions. The tax increase will also be waived for up to a year on properties that have been inherited, giving grieving families time to assess their options.

Commenting on the new regulations, Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, the membership body for property agents, said: “While we welcome the focus from the UK government on cracking down on long-term empty homes, it would be more effective to introduce a dedicated grant scheme alongside other incentives such as interest-free loans and a first-time buyer’s grant to support people to bring empty property back into use, rather than penalising them through higher council tax premiums until they do so.

“Where a similar policy has been introduced in Wales, we are yet to see a positive impact so policy makers must do more to fully understand the causes of why homes are left empty.”

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