Council Tax Long Term Empty properties
Council considered the recommendation from the Executive on Council Tax Long Term Empty Properties.
Councillor G Williamson proposed, and Councillor L Haysey seconded, a motion that the recommendations, as detailed in the report, be approved.
Councillor M Goldspink spoke in support of the proposal, which she said was fair and brought the Council’s position into line with that of a number of other authorities.
The motion being put to the meeting and a vote taken, it was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that a Council Tax premium of 100% be adopted for long term empty homes.
The Executive Member for Financial Sustainability submitted a report in respect of proposed changes to the Council Tax long term empty homes premiums from April 2020 (option B as detailed in the report submitted).
The Head of the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service used a PowerPoint presentation to present the report. She provided a definition of long term empty properties and referred to the exemption designations. Members were provided with data broken down by duration regarding the numbers of long term empty properties.
The Head of the Shared Service detailed the history before and since 2013 in respect of mandatory discounts and premium charges on properties that had been empty for more than 2 years. She referred to the Impact, Collectability and Avoidance (ICA) Review and summarised the percentage impact of the premium charged each month.
The Head of the Shared Service said that the preferred option was to introduce a maximum premium of 100%, increased from 50%, for properties that had been empty for more than 2 years. She confirmed to Councillor I Devonshire that there was another characterisation for properties that were empty as uninhabitable. She said there were no exemptions from the charge for these properties unless the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) agreed to remove them from banding. It was for the VOA to determine this not the Council.
The Head of the Shared Service responded to queries from Councillors M Goldspink and K Crofton in respect of new homes bonus and whether there was any leeway in terms of properties that were being refurbished or rebuilt in the event of fire damage. She said that there was no appeals mechanism at the Council to decisions that had been made by the valuation office.
The Head of the Shared Service confirmed to Councillor J Frecknall that the proposed recommendation was not about raising money. She stated that it was more about encouraging changes in the usage of empty properties.
It was moved by Councillor K Crofton and seconded by Councillor M Goldspink that the Executive be advised that Option B be recommended to Council and Officers investigate the feasibility of an appeals process on the grounds of whether a house was habitable.
After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that (A) the Executive be advised that Option B be recommended to Council for implementation from April 2020, with a review of its impact during 2021 to consider if further increases were appropriate in our local context;
(B) Officers investigate the feasibility of an appeals process on the grounds of whether a house was habitable.