Owners of long-term empty properties may face enormous increases in council tax.

Sunderland City Council is considering asking owners of homes left empty for two years or longer to pay more. The council’s cabinet will discuss this proposal when it meets on 16th January.

If approved, the empty home premiums would be:

  • 100% for properties left empty for at least two years (to be introduced April 2019)
  • 200% for properties left empty for at least five years (to be introduced April 2020)
  • 300% for properties left empty for at least 10 years (to be introduced April 2021)

If the owner of a Band A property – for instance – left it empty for two years, under the proposals their council tax bill would rise from £1,033.13 to £2,066.26 for 2019/20.

The owner of a Band D home who left it empty for two years would see their 2019/20 bill increase from £1,549.70 to £3,099.40.

Most properties in Sunderland fall into the council tax bands A and B.

Sunderland City Council’s cabinet secretary, Cllr Paul Stewart, said, “There are perfectly valid reasons if properties are empty for a few months as residents move or tenancies change.”

“Yet the longer the property is empty and unoccupied, there are fewer reasons and explanations and empty homes can have a negative impact on neighbourhoods and our communities.”

“If there are investors who are waiting for an upturn in sales or rentals and keeping properties empty then this is a tax on them and a fair and just one.”

“There are many families, young couples and single people of all ages who could be renting or buying one of these properties.”

Sunderland City Council introduced a 50% premium on empty properties in 2013, which has been imposed on 697 homes so far.

The empty home premiums come on top of a 3.99% council tax rise planned for this year. More proposals concerning council tax will be announced shortly and final decisions on all proposals will be made by the beginning of March.

(Featured image courtesy of http://underclassrising.net/, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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