Higher tax could hit empty Brentwood homes

Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Homeowners sitting on empty properties could face hefty council tax increases if a new proposal receives the green light.

Under the plan, the owners of houses which have stood vacant for two years or more would be charged council tax at 50 per cent more than the standard rate.

Brentwood Borough Council’s audit and scrutiny group has estimated that the empty homes premium could extract £50,000 a year from 70 empty properties in the borough.

Cllr Graeme Clark, who chairs the audit and scrutiny committee, said: “We have a surprising amount of homes that have been unoccupied for a long time in the borough and this is a way of encouraging people to make use of their houses.

“I think, when there’s a shortage of housing locally, having empty homes is not a good thing, so we should do our best to encourage people and do what we can to ensure these houses are kept occupied.”

If the council adopts the proposal, the owner of an empty house in Band D would go from paying the current annual average of £1,465 to £2,197.50 – an increase of £732.50.

The idea emerged after the audit and scrutiny committee’s task and finish group was asked to consider changes to the Local Council Tax Support scheme.

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Cllr Clark said: “The task and finish Group considered things over the last couple of months and I think it will benefit the borough and the housing problem that we have.”

A public consultation on the proposal is set to be rolled out after it is put forward to the full council in December.

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