Landlords to pay council tax on empty homes

Britain’s biggest council wants to charge landlords council tax on empty homes in a bid to raise more cash to pay for services suffering from cuts.

Birmingham City Council gives landlords with homes between tenants six month’s grace before charging council tax – and 12 months if the home is under major repair.

Under the new proposals, landlords and property investors will have to pay council tax if they currently benefit from:

  • An exemption of up to 12 months for a property undergoing major repairs or structural alterations
  • An exemption of up to six months for a property which is unoccupied and unfurnished
  • A 10% discount for a property empty for over six months
  • A 10% discount for a property which is a second home.

The council will levy a new 150% tax charge for homes empty for two years or more.

“People who are liable to pay council tax and are assessed as needing financial help to do so are entitled to council tax benefit. This benefit is administered by the council but paid for by the government,” said a council spokesman.

“As part of welfare reform the government has announced that council tax benefit is to be abolished and replaced from April 2013 by new local financial support schemes, called council tax support. How these schemes are operated will be decided by local authorities themselves.

“The government has also announced that the amount it pays local authorities for their new schemes will be 10% less than it currently pays for council tax benefit. For the council this means a funding gap of £10.9 million. Finding these savings is a huge task and the council is doing all it can to address this financial challenge.”

Birmingham City Council has put the plan out for consultation and wants responses by December 2, 2012.

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