Council calls for power to double council tax on empty homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing, Regulation
'Boom time for bailiffs' warning as cuts to council tax support hit most vulnerable
Camden Council is urging the government to allow it to double the council tax charge on empty properties in the borough.
The Labour-run council's cabinet member for finance has been using powers granted by the 2012 Local Government Finance Act to increase council tax on homes that have been empty for more than two years by 50%.
Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, has now written to communities secretary Eric Pickles to tell him that the policy has reduced the number of long-term empty homes in the London borough from 248 to 162.
He wrote: "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."
Now the council wants to increase council tax by 100% on homes that are left empty for just one year, and also wants to apply the policy to second homes.
The local authority predicts that such a move would bring 190 homes back into use.
Blackwell wrote: "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."
Camden Council is currently embroiled in a row with the government over the plans for the High Speed 2 rail scheme, which will cut through the borough, which will lead the demolition of hundreds of homes.