Council powers boosted to bring empty properties back into use

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Thousands of long-term empty properties across England could be returned to use as the government introduces new legislation to allow councils to charge double the rate of Council Tax on homes left empty for years

Whilst the number of homes empty for 6 months or longer remains substantially lower than when records began in 2004, councils will be handed powers to levy additional charges on homes standing empty for 2 years or more.

The move is one of a range of measures introduced by the government to fix the country’s fragmented housing market, and councils will be able to use funds from the premium to keep Council Tax levels down for working families.

Through an ambitious package of long-term reform and targeted investment, the government is ensuring communities have the homes they need.

Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “It is simply wrong that, while there are 200,000 long-term empty properties across the country, thousands of families are desperate for a secure place to call home.

“This new power will equip councils with the tools they need to encourage owners of long-term empty properties to bring them back into use – and at the same time tackle the harmful effect they have on communities through squatting, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.”

There are currently just over 200,000 long-term empty dwellings in England, compared to 300,000 in 2010.

The number has reduced radically since 2013, when councils were given powers to charge a 50% premium on Council Tax bills. The vast majority of councils currently apply a 50% premium on long-term empty properties.

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