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Plans to combat long-term empty homes
COUNCIL tax discounts on empty homes look to set to be overhauled by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in a bid to bring more homes back into use.
To combat long-term empty homes, councillors plan to levy a 150 per cent council tax charge if a house is unused for more than two years.
Assuming the plans are approved by full council later this year, the new rules will be introduced from April 2013.
An empty home is defined as “a dwelling in which no one lives and which is substantially unfurnished”.
Under current regulations, agreed at full council last year, empty homes are exempt from council tax for the first six months. Afterwards, owners are eligible for a 25 per cent discount.
But at an economic prosperity and performance overview and scrutiny committee meeting, all councillors agreed on a radical overhaul of the current system.
Homes empty for up to three months will be exempt from council tax and a 50 per cent discount will be applied from three to six months. If a home is empty for six to 24 months, owners will have to pay the full council tax, and after two years, owners will pay 150 per cent council tax.
“I think at a time when there is homelessness in the borough, we must do everything we can to encourage bringing homes back into use,” said Councillor John Izett, Cabinet member for property and finance.
Latest figures show 162 homes have been empty for two years or more, 247 homes have remained unlived in for six to 24 months, and 203 have been empty for three to six months.
Only four homes are eligible for a council tax exemption under the new rules. It has been calculated that the extra cash from scrapping discounts would add £384,398 to the borough’s accounts.
In addition to overhauling council tax bills on empty homes, councillors voted that a 10 per cent second home discount will be scrapped altogether, and the 12 month council tax exemption on homes being repaired will be broken down into a six-month total exemption, and 50 per cent exemption up to 12 months, but homes awaiting repair for longer than a year will be subject to full council tax.