Unoccupied homes left by owners for a substantial length of time across the UK could become subject to increased levels of council tax, following new proposals put forward by Camden Council.
The local authority has contacted the government in order to highlight new measures for raising the costs associated with unoccupied homes.
Homes that have not had a permanent resident for two years or more are now being charged an additional 50 per cent premium on their rates, as the council looks to tackle the issue of a lack of available properties in the area coupled with the issue of ‘buy-to-leave’ international investors.
Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance at the local authority, sent a letter to communities secretary Eric Pickles earlier this month, which stated: “While the additional council tax income from premiums is relatively modest and recycles back into the collection fund for the benefit of all taxpayers, its real effect of bringing empty homes back into use can be clearly seen in Camden.”
It is therefore hoped this measure – which is being implemented under powers granted as part of the 2012 Local Government Finance Act – could have similar benefits to other communities across the country
Mr Blackwell added: “We would also like to see a change to the law in relation to unoccupied, furnished property to prevent what the press have called buy-to-leave international investors from storing a few sticks of furniture in a property in order to claim it is a second home and thus avoid the premium.”
As a result of the local authority’s efforts to date, figures provided by Mr Blackwell reveal the number of unoccupied homes in Camden have fallen from 248 to just 162 in the last year.
Moreover, the council is now seeking government approval to raise its rates even further, calling on Westminster officials to sanction a 100 per cent tax hike for homes that have been left unoccupied for one year or more, while also applying the policy to second homes.
It is hoped this will present a significant deterrent to individuals purchasing second homes that are hardly used and for international investors to snap up property in desirable postcodes only to let these buildings fall into disrepair or rarely be used.
The council believes raising tax in this manner would help to bring upwards of 190 properties back into full-time use across the borough.
GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Limited offers unoccupied homeowners insurance for those individuals planning to leave their property without a permanent resident for 30 days or more.
Our experienced advisors can help you to receive the best rates on cover, providing peace of mind that unexpected damage caused to a building while it is empty will be completely paid for.
Many standard insurance policies do not provide cover if a property has been left unattended for more than 30 days, meaning unoccupied building insurance could help people to save thousands of pounds should anything untoward occur in their absence.
The policy can also be converted back to a standard home insurance contract when the owner returns if they so wish.