housing - private landlords

Owners of empty homes in Crewe and Nantwich could face double council tax charges under new plans by Cheshire East Council, writes Stephen Topping.

They want to clamp down on the owners of empty homes which are being left unoccupied and unfurnished the long periods.

Since April 2013, local authorities have had the power to charge a premium of 50% of the council tax to owners of properties which have stood unoccupied and unfurnished for at least two years.

But from April 2019, owners of empty homes will pay a 100% premium – meaning they will pay twice the amount of council tax as other residents.

At Cheshire East Council cabinet meeting yesterday (December 4), Cllr Sam Corcoran, leader of CEC’s Labour opposition, welcomed the changes as a way of bringing empty homes back into use.

He said: “When I joined the council, you used to get a discount on your council tax for an empty property.

“I thought that was wrong, and we got it changed.

“The impact when the discount was abolished – firstly council tax receipts increased by between £2 million and £3 million – but perhaps more importantly, the number of empty properties fell.

“Now, we do know that we have got a shortage of properties, and therefore I would encourage all people to not leave properties empty.

“And if we can do things with our tax base to encourage them to do so, that is welcome.

“It is always nice to do well out of doing good – and in this we are increasing our tax receipts and doing good by encouraging people not to leave properties empty.”

Meanwhile, Cheshire East is also reducing the amount of time an empty rental property can have a council tax discount from eight weeks to six weeks from next April.

(pic for illustration purposes only)

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