Council looks set to increase tax on empty homes in Brighton and Hove

Housing In Prestonville, Brighton (December 2013, Seen From Howard Place)Housing In Prestonville, Brighton (December 2013, Seen From Howard Place)
Housing In Prestonville, Brighton (December 2013, Seen From Howard Place)
Higher council tax charges on empty homes in Brighton and Hove are expected to be approved this week.

Currently owners of empty homes receive a 50 per cent reduction on their council tax bill as it is based partly on property value and partly on occupancy.

A new law took effect last month which allows councils to charge the full amount from next April when homes have been empty for more than two years.

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A Brighton and Hove City Council report, due to be discussed tomorrow (December 13) said: “The council has the opportunity to extend charges for empty properties.

“This will potentially incentivise more homes being brought back into use and increase income.”

The report adds homes brought back into use are more likely to be maintained and are less likely to “contribute to urban decay”.

Members of the council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee approved the proposals without debate at a meeting last Thursday (6 December).

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Labour council leader Daniel Yates said: “Our empty homes team already does great work at bringing unused homes back into use, working alongside owners to address the reasons they have been empty.

“The empty properties council tax premium will help to create another incentive for these properties to be brought back into use.

“I’m far more interested in seeing the homes used than seeing the council tax premium needing to be charged.

“Let’s get every resident a home and every home a resident.”

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This financial year the council expects to collect £108,000 from empty properties before the new law comes in.

From April 2020 if a home is empty for more than five years, the charges double. And from April 2021 if it is empty for more than ten years the council tax trebles.

As of Tuesday 31 July Brighton and Hove had 153 empty homes, with ten empty for more than ten years, 20 for five to ten years and 123 for between two and five years.

Most are in the lowest council tax bands – A, B and C.

Brunswick and Adelaide ward had the highest number of empty homes, with 34 in total.

Rottingdean Coastal was close behind with 30 empty homes.

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Most empty properties were owned by individuals, at 84, with 40 owned by companies.

The rest are owned by housing associations, public bodies and executors.

The meeting of the full council is due to start at 4.30pm at Hove Town Hall tomorrow (December 13). The meeting should be held in public.