Cornwall Council has today welcomed the budget announcement by Chancellor Phillip Hammond yesterday allowing local authorities to charge double council tax on empty properties.
Cornwall Council cabinet member for Homes, Andrew Mitchell said the announcement gave local authorities the power to increase taxes on vacant houses and flats, to dissuade property investors from allowing homes to sit empty while many struggle to find somewhere to live.
“Tackling the issue of empty homes is a key priority for this Council to help increase housing supply. There is a shortage of housing in Cornwall and we need to do all we can to put pressure on home owners to bring empty properties back into use,” he said.
This move is designed to encourage people to get houses into use or invest their capital in other ways. For those buying up properties and leaving them empty in the hope they will benefit from house price increases, this could significantly increase the cost of holding that investment.
Legislation will be introduced which will allow local authorities to charge a 100% premium on properties that have been empty for two or more years. The premium is currently 50%. The additional premium, if applied, would raise around of £0.7m, which would be reinvested to provide essential services.
The change, which would come into effect from April 2018, would see council tax on properties in band D which have been empty for two years or more increase by around £730* a year.
The surcharge applies to properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more. There are certain exemptions for properties that have been put up for sale, where a property is an annex to another property, or for those that are in the armed forces.
There are currently 1,032 properties in Cornwall which have been empty for two or more years.
*This figure represents the Cornwall Council element of Council Tax and will be higher when taking into account the Police and Crime Commissioner and local town/parish council precepts.