Clamp down on empty homes proposed
Gloucester City Council is set to raise council tax on empty homes in a move to help tackle homelessness.
Councillors will vote on the proposals at January’s cabinet meeting, which could see Council tax rise by up to four times on some properties that have been empty long term.
The move is aimed at encouraging owners to bring properties back into use and to boost the number of homes available to rent or buy.
If given the green light, from April next year, homes empty for over two years could see owners pay a charge of 150 percent on each property.
The following April this could be increased to a charge of double the amount of Council Tax due, for homes empty for more than two years but less than five.
While homes empty for more than five years will attract three times the amount of Council Tax.
By April 2021 homes empty for more than two years but less than five could see owners pay double, for those empty more than five but less than ten, three times, and for those empty more than ten, four times the amount.
Only homes that are owned by a member of the armed services and those that are part of a main residence such as a ‘granny flat’ will be exempt.
Currently empty properties receive a discount of 25 percent for the first six months before owners pay the normal level of Council Tax due.
However, there are around 350 empty homes in Gloucester that have been empty for more than two years (which is about 0.61 percent of all properties).
While in Gloucester there are currently around 160 households in temporary accommodation.
By bringing empty properties back into use it will mean there are more homes available for people to rent or buy.
Councillor Jennie Watkins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said: “Homes that are standing empty not only often attract anti-social behaviour or vandalism but are also often places that could make perfectly good homes for people that are homeless.
“But we do recognise that there might be many reasons why a property is empty, which is why we’ve proposed introducing the charge gradually to give owners the chance to bring their houses back into use.
“And we are also offering a package of support through the Landlords Incentive Scheme to help property owners find and keep tenants.”
All potentially affected council tax payers would be written to and provided with details of the Landlord Incentive Scheme.