Plans to bring empty Arun properties back into use by imposing higher council tax bills

Arun District Council is considering council tax increases – which could see some bills quadruple – in order to encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use.

Empty home
Empty home

The proposed changes will be discussed at a meeting of Arun District Council’s residential and wellbeing services committee tonight (September 30).

There are currently 171 unfurnished properties that have been empty for more than two years in the district.

Council officers say the changes, which would come into effect from April 1 2022, ‘will support local communities by increasing the supply of affordable housing available in the district’.

They also estimate that it could bring in an extra £34,878 for the council.

ADC currently charges a 50 per cent council tax premium on properties empty for more than two years.

But the changes could see bills double for properties empty for between two and five years.

Properties that have been empty for five to ten years could be charged three times the normal council tax bill and those empty for ten years or more will see bills quadruple.

These are the maximum amounts allowed by the government since a change to the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings charged) Act (2018).

Local authorities have been able to charge extra council tax to owners of empty properties since 2013 under the Local Government Finance Act (2012).

Some exceptions will be made and the council’s head of residential services would be able to waive the premium in certain circumstances.

For example, the premium does not apply to empty properties waiting on probate or where the owner now resides in a care home.

Exceptions may also apply if the owner is struggling to sell their property and council tax may be deferred.

New residents of properties that are eligible for the empty home premium may be let off if they can’t occupy the property immediately due to structural repairs or poor condition.

Other options in front of councillors tonight include leaving the premium at its current rate of 50 per cent, or dropping it altogether.

The item will be taken to full council for a final decision.

Charity Action on Empty Homes has placed Arun on its list of ‘fastest risers’ in the South East.

It is worth noting that the charity includes second homes and homes empty for six months or more when calculating total numbers of empty homes