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Rutland County Council asks people for views on council tax premium on empty homes

People living in Rutland are being asked to share their views on the premiums that are applied to empty homes in the county.

Empty homes are properties that are left vacant or uninhabited for long periods of time. They have the potential to become derelict, impacting on neighbouring properties and potentially becoming a focal point for anti-social behaviour, as well as being a waste of housing when people are in need of somewhere to live.

The government has given local authorities the ability to set a premium for long-term empty homes. These premiums increase the amount of council tax that property owners are required to pay if their home has been left vacant for more than two years, in a bid to bring back into use empty homes.

Gordon Brown, Rutland County Council cabinet member for benefits
Gordon Brown, Rutland County Council cabinet member for benefits

The council tax premium for homes in Rutland left empty for more than two years was set at 50 per cent in April 2018. With council tax for the average Band D property in Rutland currently £2043.20 (including county council, parish council, police and fire contributions), this means the owner of an empty Band D property currently pays a total council tax bill of £3,064.80.

Since April 2018, the government has given councils discretion to further increase the premium as follows:

  • A maximum 100 per cent premium for properties that have been empty for less than five years – a total council tax bill of £4,086.40 for the average empty Band D property
  • A maximum 200 per cent premium for properties that have been empty for more than five years
  • From 2021/22 onwards, a maximum 300 per cent premium for properties that have been empty for at least ten years
Rutland County Council
Rutland County Council

As part of a public consultation that will run until October 2, 2019, Rutland County Council is asking residents for their views on four main issues relating to empty homes:

  • Whether the council should take steps to increase its income
  • The size of premium that it should charge on long-term empty homes
  • Whether certain groups should be exempt from paying the empty homes premium
  • Whether it should help people who have to pay the empty homes premium but are suffering from financial hardship

Coun Gordon Brown, cabinet member for revenues and benefits at Rutland County Council, said: “Empty homes can have an impact on the streetscene and are often at risk of becoming sites for anti-social behavior and vandalism. The empty homes premium was introduced by national government to encourage the owners of empty homes to bring these properties back into use. Rutland is also under considerable financial pressure because we continue to receive less government funding than other councils, so must consider the empty homes premium as a way to increase our income and avoid reducing or cutting other services.

“It’s important to stress that the empty homes premium does not affect council tax for homes that are lived in. However, all residents and landlords, regardless of whether they own an empty home, should share their views with us.”

A survey is online www.rutland.gov.uk/consultations. The deadline is online before Wednesday, October 2.

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