Owners of long-term empty properties across Bath and North East Somerset face a hefty rise in council tax from April, with a significant premium planned on top of the normal charge.
Bath & North East Somerset Council is increasing the amount of council tax it charges for properties which have lain empty for more than two years to encourage owners to bring them back into use.
The council currently charges an extra 50% council tax for properties that have been empty and unfurnished for more than two years.
As of Wednesday 1st April 2020, the owner of a property that has been empty and unfurnished for between two and five years will have to pay a 100% premium charge on top of their normal 100% council tax charge.
Owners of homes that have been empty and unoccupied for five years or more, will pay an additional 200% on top of their normal 100% council tax charge.
The council has already sent letters to the owners of more than 200 long-term empty properties informing them of the changes.
Councillor Richard Samuel, cabinet member for Resources, said: “Any empty property is a wasted housing resource, can become a real blight in the community and is a lost financial return to the owner.
“We hope the increase in council tax premium for these long-term empty properties will act as an incentive to the owners to bring them back into use.
“The demand for housing across the district outstrips supply so bringing empty properties back into use will help address this.
“The council offers practical advice and support to bring empty properties back into use and I’d urge the owners of such properties to take advantage of this service.”
The council’s ‘Taking Action on Empty Homes Policy 2018’ sets out the support offered by the Empty Property Officer to help bring empty properties back into use.
As well as practical advice and support, Small Works Grants of up to £500 can also be awarded to cover things like planning pre-application costs, electrical surveys, safety certificates and clearance costs.
VAT reductions and exemptions on contracted works are available as well as Empty Property Loans of up to £30,000.
Properties identified as being of the highest priority are subject to an Action Plan which allow for intensive, tailored help and support to be offered to the owner, the co-ordination of all council services involved with the case, coupled with a clear enforcement strategy where necessary.
Across Bath and North East Somerset, there are currently more than 600 properties that have been empty for more than six months, with more than 200 of them vacant for two years or more.
Leaving a property unoccupied isn’t against the law. However, if such a property becomes a nuisance to the local community or council tax debts are not being repaid and the owner refuses to engage with the council, enforcement action will be taken to bring it back into use.
If you own an empty property and wish to access the support available, contact the Empty Property Officers on 01225 396411 or email email@example.com.
If there is an empty home in your street, you can help the council work to bring it back into use by reporting it via the No-Use-Empty website: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/housing/no-use-empty.