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Are the owners of empty homes stupid? Selfish? Both?

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Are the owners of empty homes stupid? Selfish? Both?

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government, Regulation

Are the owners of empty homes stupid? Selfish? Both? Are the owners of empty homes stupid? Selfish? Both?

24dash reporter Max Salsbury gets irate, again.

Amusing-to-some bungler Boris Johnson has revealed he has been lobbying London’s councils to apply a 50% council tax (CT) premium on long-term empty homes.

Unsurprisingly, 15 of the blighters have refused to take action against those who are happy to let their properties sit and…well, do nothing.

Last year, Camden Council decided enough was enough and hit empty home owners with a 150% CT bill. And the results were startling. Within nine months, the number of empties in the borough dropped by 35%.

And then Camden reasoned: why not go further?

Alas, the borough’s attempt to apply a 200% CT rate on empties was too much for the world’s ruling Tories, who blocked the move, claiming, among other things, that the measure was too “intrusive”.

Camden’s attempt to push the premium up to 200% is admirable (and they would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddlesome Tories) but I would have gone a lot further.

In the midst of a nationwide housing crisis, which we happen to be in, letting homes sit empty is akin to spitting in the eye of a homeless person.

At the moment, boroughs like Camden apply 150% CT on empties only after they have sat vacant for over two years.

I’d allow people to let their homes sit idle for six months before applying a 500% CT rate, then add 100% increments on a month-by-month basis.

Harsh? Perhaps. But fair.

What possible excuse have people for letting homes lie empty? As I outlined previously, homes are an essential aspect of life – not a luxury. With a national housing shortage afoot, we cannot afford, for the sake of humanity, to let residential property sit and rot.

Ok, so some people have second homes that they visit once or twice a year when they want to get away from it all. Fine. If you’re rich enough for a second, and totally unnecessary, home then you can pay a 1000% CT premium – money which local authorities can use to create accommodation for those massively less fortunate than yourself.

Or have I got it all wrong? Are there plenty of good reasons for these vital commodities to be unlived in? Or are empty property owners just stupid and selfish?

If you’re the owner of an empty home, please feel free to justify your position and explain why you shouldn’t be hit with punitive tax measures in the comments section below.

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