Council Tax Empty Homes Premium Consultation Questionnaire

Background to the consultation

Across the borough, there are currently almost 1,600 homes that have been empty for six months or longer (excluding those which are exempt from paying Council Tax); of these, 478 have been empty for over two years, with 169 of these empty for over five years. In a time when demand for housing is increasing this is a significant wasted resource. In 2016, we launched an Empty Homes Strategy covering the five years to 2021. This set out our target of bringing 900 long-term (over six months) empty properties back into use by 2021. To date, we have brought 400 long-term empty properties back into use during this period.

Under current legislation, we are able to charge a Council Tax premium of up to 50 per cent on largely unfurnished properties that have been empty for over two years. Currently, we charge the maximum 50 per cent in these circumstances, except in the following situations where there is an exemption:
  • Property left empty by previous occupant(s) now detained under immigration law, in prison, in hospital or other place on mental health grounds
  • An unoccupied property where the previous occupier (who must have been the owner or tenant) now has their sole or main residence in a hospital, residential care home or nursing home
  • An unoccupied dwelling where the person subject to the charge is the personal representative of a deceased person and no grant of probate or letters of administration have been made or less than six months has elapsed since such a grant was made
  • Where occupation is prohibited by law
  • Property left empty by a person living elsewhere to receive/provide personal care
  • Property left empty by a qualifying student
  • Property repossessed under the terms of a mortgage
  • Property left empty by a bankrupt person
  • An empty caravan pitch or boat mooring
  • An unoccupied annex which cannot be let separately because it is part of the main property and where its letting is restricted under planning regulations
  • Property left empty due to service in the Armed Forces
  • Property left empty by a person with a serious illness
  • Empty retirement homes in leasehold developments which are advertised for sale or rent
As well as charging the empty homes premium, there are a number of other Council initiatives available to help the owners of empty homes bring them back into use.  These are outlined in Table 1 below and further information is available on the Council website.
Table 1: Initiatives to help bring empty homes back into use
Initiative Brief description
Empty Homes  Grant
A grant to help convert long-term empty property or obsolete commercial premises to private rented residential accommodation.
Matching service Helps to link empty home owners wishing to sell and accredited landlords wishing to purchase empty homes and bring them back into use.
Buy and sell service Helps to link empty home owners wishing to sell and property developers looking to refurbish properties and sell them on the open market.
Private Landlord service Supports landlords by providing contact with prospective tenants and giving access to tenancy management and sign-up services.
If you need any more information about Council Tax, please visit the "Council Tax" section of our website.  Alternatively, please contact the Council Tax team by emailing or by phoning 0300 123 7 022.

What we are consulting on

This consultation seeks your views on both the immediate proposal to double the premium from 50 per cent to 100 per cent from 1 April 2019 and other potential future changes should further legislation amendments be introduced.