Council to hit empty home owners with new 300pc tax levy
- Credit: Archant
A council is upping the ante on owners of long-term empty homes by putting into force a 300pc council tax levy.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) is making use of new government-sanctioned powers to bring in a new 300pc tax levy from April 1 for owners of homes which have been empty for more than 10 years, which they are calling ‘‘the most significant fiscal lever to encourage the reoccupation of empty homes".
The council already has 100 and 200pc levies in place as it looks to bring down the 148 empty North Norfolk homes paying a premium increase on their council tax.
The council tax long-term empty property premium sees a 100pc surcharge in council tax for properties that have remained empty for two to five years. The premium is then increased to 200pc if it remains empty for five to ten years.
From April 1, a new 300pc levy rate will come into effect for properties that have been empty for more than 10 years.
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Empty dwellings are generally defined as homes that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for at least six months, however, an increase in the tax does not come into effect until it has been empty for two years.
According to information released under the Freedom of Information act, in 2020, 112 properties were paying a 100pc levy for remaining empty, while another 36 were paying double that.
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The number of empty houses has steadily increased since 2016 when 127 homes were paying the 100pc increase.
The council said properties that have been empty for more than two years have brought in a total increase in council tax of £138,471.15. Those which have been empty for more than five years saw a total increase in council tax of £97,601.74. NNDC received approximately 8pc of this figure.
There are nine properties that would meet the new 300pc increase at the start of next month, with a levy charge of £43,264.56.
The increased levy comes into force at a time when first time buyers are finding it increasingly hard to get on the ladder.
Eric Seward, deputy leader at North Norfolk District Council, said, “The North Norfolk District is an area of high housing demand.
"The council wishes to see [the] best use made of existing housing stock such that it has used powers available through the council tax system to see long-term empty properties brought back into use.
“The council has therefore opted to charge a council tax premium on long-term empty properties as an incentive to the owners of such properties to either bring these homes back into use or to sell them for improvement and re-occupation.
“The council believes that this is a positive tool in making best use of our housing stock, increasing the availability of local homes and protecting the local environment.
“There is also a wider community benefit as the increased council tax receipts generated through the empty homes premium contributes to the provision of local public services provided by parish, district and county councils and Norfolk police.”
Sheringham has had the highest number of empty homes since 2016. This year the town has nine properties paying the 100pc levy, with another five paying the 200pc increase.
The other towns and villages paying the most for empty properties in 2020 were North Walsham, with 13. High Kelling had 12 and both Fakenham and Cromer had 10 properties paying these premiums.
Sheringham is also home to the most expensive council tax band rates. This financial year an average band D home in the town will have a council tax bill of £2,012.84.
The clock is reset on the home if there is a period of occupation of 43 days or more. Occupations below this period are ignored otherwise the clock starts ticking again.
People do have the chance to appeal the levy to the revenues manager and then to the Valuation Tribunal.
The council said it does not have a figure for the number of properties empty and not receiving a levy as they tend to monitor the premium cases, not those that have an exception to the premium, however, they said 'there would only be a handful of cases.'