Owners face higher bills in Brighton and Hove for second homes and empty properties

Posted On 11 Aug 2012 at 7:19 pm

A change in the law has prompted Brighton and Hove’s political leaders to review the level of council tax charged for empty homes.

Councillor Jason Kitcat, the Green Party leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said that he hoped people would take part in an online consultation about council tax discounts.

Before he became council leader, he lobbied the coalition government for the power to scrap discounts for second homes and this has now been granted to councils.

The key changes being considered in Brighton and Hove include charging owners of empty unfurnished properties much sooner.

Councillor Jason Kitcat

Currently council tax can be waived for six months. The council is considering cutting this to five weeks.

If a property has been empty for more than two years the council may charge the owner full council tax plus an extra 50 per cent on top – the legal maximum.

At current rates, this would mean an annual council tax bill of £2,223 for a band D property instead of £1,482.

Second home owners currently enjoy a 10 per cent discount to reflect the fact that they use fewer services than most people.

But opponents of the discount argue that they tend to be wealthier and more able to afford the full council tax.

The council estimates that there are about 1,200 second homes in Brighton and Hove and that the proposed change could raise about £200,000.

It has no plans to change the rules around exemptions from council tax for properties where there have been structural repairs or alterations.

And the council has not been given any say over the single person’s discount or the exemption for students, both of which have affected Brighton and Hove’s revenues.

More details of the proposed changes and a chance to take part in the consultation can be found on the council website at http://bit.ly/bhctaxdc.

Councillor Kitcat said: “With such a shortage of local housing for people, it’s sensible to make it more expensive for owners to leave properties empty and unused.

“We also believe it is reasonable to stop the 10 per cent council tax discount people with a second home in the city currently receive so that we can use the extra money to help less well-off families.

“I urge people to get online and let us know whether they agree.”

If the changes go ahead, they are likely to take effect from next April.

 

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