Bid to bring empty houses back into use

Published Wednesday 28 June 2017

Empty properties could be brought back into use for residents under proposals to change council tax levies on them.

Harborough District Council has launched a consultation on the proposed changes to council tax which would come into effect from 1 April 2018.

It is proposed that:

  • Properties which have been empty for more than two years, will be subject to an additional 50 per cent premium on the council tax charged.  This will result in a payment of 150 per cent of council tax.
  • Properties under major and/or structural repairs have the discount of 50 per cent removed (class A discount), resulting in 100 per cent payment of council tax.

Councillor Neil Bannister, the council’s portfolio holder responsible for environment and regulation said “Bringing empty properties back into use encourages economic vitality and can increase spending in the local economy, as run-down unsightly homes can deter investment in an area and lead to area blight.”

Harborough District Council currently applies a 10 per cent discount on unoccupied but furnished properties / second homes, however from 1 April 2018, it is proposed that this discount is removed. 

Councillor Phil King, deputy leader and portfolio holder responsible for finance and assets services said “An empty house is a wasted resource. Bringing empty homes back into use helps meet local housing need, prevents squatting, reduces homelessness and the need for temporary accommodation.”

Owners of properties affected by these proposed changes will be informed about the consultation which runs until 20 August 2017.  Alongside this, there will be an opportunity for all residents to have their say online via the council’s website.

Councillor James Hallam, the council’s portfolio holder responsible for corporate services and economic development, said: “It is important people respond to this consultation, even if you are not affected by the proposed changes.”

In 2016, there were nearly 590,000 empty homes in England, according to the statistics published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Of these, just over 200,000 have been empty for more than six months. In the Harborough district there are currently more than 400 empty properties which have been empty for more than six months.

Complete the survey here