Councils axe empty home tax discounts

Private landlords and holiday home owners with property in Cornwall face paying hundreds of pounds extra in council tax every year.

Cornwall County Council is set to pass new rules to penalise homeowners who leave their properties vacant for more than two years by axing discounts for second homes and hiking council tax bills.

Properties left empty for 24 months face a 150% council tax bill, while holiday homes lose their 10% discount.

The changes were recommended by a meeting of the council’s cabinet and are due to be rubberstamped by the full council within a few weeks.

The move could see some homeowners paying up to £1,500 a year extra in council tax.

The irony is the money does not cost a property business a penny, as the cash is set off against rental profits pond-for-pound.

The real difference is instead of the money going to the coffers of central government as income tax; the local council grabs a share along the way.

Some districts in Cornwall have the highest proportion of holiday homes and second homes out of the total number of homes in the area in the UK.

Meanwhile, buy to let landlords in Carlisle are also set to pay more council tax as the city council lifts a discount on empty homes.

Current rules let landlords leave a home empty for up to six months without paying council tax, but from the start of the next financial year the discount is cut in half.

From April 6, landlords will pay 50% council tax on empty homes.

“These are primarily properties that are changing owner or tenant and the six months allows for the exchange of contracts/new tenancy agreements,” said a report to the council.

“All persons affected would have to factor the discount reduction into their budgets. It might encourage faster re-letting or re-occupation of empty homes.”

Homes still empty after six months will also have council tax discounts reduced, depending on how long they are uninhabited and the reason why no one lives there.

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