The Financial Support Manager presented a report on the subject of Council Tax Empty Homes Discounts and Premiums. Members were advised that there were two different types of empty homes:
· Second homes, that were furnished but which were not any person’s main residence. There was already a policy in place that stipulated that there was no discount on Council Tax offered to owners of second homes and Officers were not proposing that this situation should change.
· Vacant dwellings, which were unoccupied and substantially unfurnished. Under existing policies, owners of existing vacant properties were required to pay 50 per cent of the Council Tax on the property for the first six months and 100 per cent of the Council Tax thereafter. Owners of new vacant homes had a 100 per cent discount on their properties for the first three months, a 50 per cent discount on the following three months and were only required to pay 100 per cent of the Council Tax due if the property remained vacant after six months. Changes were proposed to the arrangements for discounts in these circumstances.
Under the proposals detailed in the report, the graduated discount system for new homes would be removed. Vacant homes, both in terms of existing properties and new homes, would be required to pay 100 per cent of Council Tax after a short period of time had elapsed.
There were also discounts that could apply to local authority housing. Whilst Bromsgrove District Council did not manage any housing stock, there was always the possibility that the authority could do so in the future. Discounts on Council Tax for Council houses could be invested in housing stock. For these reasons, it was proposed that this discount should remain.
The report proposed the introduction of premium payment requirements for properties that had been vacant for a significant period of time. These premiums would apply from 1st April 2022 onwards. Property owners would be required to pay a 100 per cent premium for homes that had been vacant for between two and five years, 200 per cent premium for homes vacant between five and ten years and a 300 per cent premium for homes vacant for ten years or more. The intention of the Government had been that vacant properties that were genuinely on the market for sale would not be subject to a premium and Councils needed to take this into account when introducing premiums. However, the Council had noted that the local housing market was buoyant, there were some doubts about whether legally these properties could be excluded from the premium and the Council had discretionary powers not to apply the premium if considered appropriate and assessments regarding applicability of this discretion could be made on a case by case basis.
In proposing the recommendations, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling explained that the Council was trying to reduce the proportion of homes in the district that were empty. The number of empty homes in the District on ... view the full minutes text for item 44