Empty homes will cost you.

In an effort to drive down the number of long term empty domestic properties B&NES is going to make owners pay additional council tax.

It’s not the first time an increased levy has been used to encourage empty houses to be put back in the housing stream. In April 2013 Bath & North East Somerset Council levied a 50% Council Tax premium on homes that had been vacant for two years or more.

From April 2020, that 50% increased to a 100% premium for properties vacant between two and five years and a 200% premium was levied for properties empty more than five years.

The council is now tackling the longer term empty domestic properties by increasing the levy on Council Tax to 300% on properties that have been vacant for 10 years or more. This will come into effect on April 1.

The council is highlighting the advice and financial support it offers to owners of empty homes, through loans, grants and VAT reduction.  There is also advice and practical support available helping owners to avoid enforcement action.

There are currently over 200 long term empty homes in B&NES that are subject to a Council Tax premium, with 24 having been empty for 10 years or more. The council wants to drive this number down by encouraging owners whose properties have been empty for 10 years or more to bring them back into use, helping to meet housing demand across Bath and North East Somerset.

Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said: “Unoccupied homes can have a negative impact on our communities and our landscape. They can be a magnet for anti-social behaviour and can devalue neighbouring homes, as well as being an unnecessary drain on public services. We have a growing housing need in B&NES and unoccupied homes are a wasted resource we cannot afford.

“By increasing the Council Tax premium on properties that have stood vacant long-term, we want to encourage owners to make their properties available to become much-needed new homes for other residents. We have a range of tailored support and advice available to help people do this if they are struggling or feel overwhelmed about getting started.”

Councillor Steve Hedges (Odd Down) said:

“Action by the Empty Properties team helped with a vacant house in my ward. It had been lying empty for many years and was attracting fly-tipping, rats, drug use and anti-social behaviour. Bringing the house back into use solved all these problems.

“Housing is one of the Lib Dem administration’s key priorities. We’re taking action from all angles, including incentives to encourage owners to bring empty homes back into use. 

“Everyone deserves the chance to live in decent housing. It’s wrong for homes to sit empty whilst there are people in need of housing in our communities.”

The current total number of properties empty for six months and over in Bath and North East Somerset is 814.

Loans of up to £30,000 on eligible properties are available, alongside grants and VAT exemption. Anyone who needs advice on their empty property can email empty_properties@bathnes.gov.uk, call the Empty Property Officer on: 01225 396411 or visit the website www.no-use-emptywest.co.uk

The decision to increase the council tax premium was made by full Council on November 12, 2020. You can view the decision here at item 46. https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=272&MId=5214&Ver=4