Cabinet agrees tax on empty houses

Crawley Borough Council’s Cabinet agreed plans to increase Council Tax rates for empty properties at its meeting last Wednesday (25 September).

The decision was made to increase rates to incentivise property owners to bring them back into occupation.

Currently, owners of empty properties are required to pay an additional 50 per cent on top of the normal rate of tax according to the property’s banding. However, amendments to the Rating and Council Tax Act 2018 enables local authorities to apply a higher rate to any properties that have remained unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years.

The changes will take place from 1 April 2020 and the increased rate of Council Tax will be decided depending on the number of years the property has remained vacant.

In Crawley there are currently:

  • 13 properties that have remained vacant for between two and five years. The owners of these properties would be required to pay a 100 per cent increase from April 2020
  • Five properties that have remained vacant for five years or more. The owners would be required to pay a 200 per cent increase from April 2020
  • Five properties that have remained vacant for more than 10 years. The owners would be required to pay a 300 per cent increase from April 2021.

If these properties remain empty, the increase in Council Tax will bring in an additional £53,913, with the council retaining 11.5p for every £1 billed (£6,200), West Sussex County Council receiving 77.8p and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner receiving 10.7p.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Peter Lamb, said: “The demand for housing is ever increasing and while the council is progressing with the development of new properties, it’s important to ensure that existing properties are being utilised.

“While the number of empty properties in Crawley is low, the increased rates will help encourage property owners to bring them back into use and contribute to the housing need in the town.”

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