Coventry City Council is to take advantage of changes in national legislation in an attempt to tackle the number of empty homes across the city.
The move will mean that owners of vacant properties could be charged up to 300% more for their Council Tax in future in an attempt to encourage them to bring their properties back into use.
There are currently nearly 400 properties in the city that have been empty for more than two years. The properties could provide much needed homes at a time when there are high numbers of people who are living in temporary or bed and breakfast accommodation.
The proposals are part of a Cabinet report to be considered by councillors on 8 January 2019 which outlines planned changes to the empty property premium as part of the annual Council Tax Base Report.
It means from 1 April 2019, a Council Tax premium of 100% may be applied to properties that have been empty for two years. From 1 April 2020, a Council Tax premium of 200% may be applied to properties that have been empty for more than five years, rising to 300% for properties that have been empty for more than 10 years from 1 April 2021.
Councillor John Mutton, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources, said it was only right the local authority should use whatever powers it had to ensure empty homes were brought back into use.
He said: “The Council Tax Base Report gives us the measure of how many properties should be paying Council Tax across the city – but it doesn’t set the level of Council Tax. It also introduces new legislative changes, like the Empty Homes Premium increase.
“The Empty Homes Premium aims to make sure that we are bringing properties that are vacant long-term back into use so that we can increase the city’s housing provision and make sure that Coventry has more homes available for its residents.
“We are facing a housing crisis and we want to make sure that people aren’t letting good homes go to waste, or even buying up properties to falsely inflate their value – this premium is a great incentive for people sitting on empty houses to get them back into use for the people of Coventry.”
The Council Tax base 2019/20 is recommended to be set at 83,400, a 3.2% increase upon last year. This rise is due to an increase in the number of chargeable properties and fewer properties eligible for exemptions and discounts across the city.
From 1 April 2013, the Council has held and exercised the power to charge a premium equal to 50% of Council Tax liability for properties empty for more than two years. But Coventry City Council is now set to take advantage of the recent government legislation to charge the maximum for the empty property premium.
To read the full report, go to: www.coventry.gov.uk