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Council tax to be doubled for empty homes in Greenwich borough

Many empty homes in new builds?

Homes left empty will see council tax doubled under plans by Greenwich Council to help tackle the housing crises.

Currently owners must pay a 50% surcharge if left empty which will now be increased to 100%.

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It’ll be welcome news to those suffering poor living conditions as homes lie empty and used as investments.

However, empty home numbers are perhaps overstated. It’s not really in many owner’s interest to leave them empty. Even speculators will prefer rental income either through long term lets or Air BnB type short term lettings.

Not the only cure

There are 205,293 empty homes across the country (as of 2018) which sounds a lot (and would certainly help the crises if occupied) yet this is just 0.9% of total homes and around 18 months shortfall of needed homes.

Every single empty home could be filled and housing demand would barely be scratched. Total housebuilding in the UK is short by 150,000 a year based on levels needed – and levels the UK used to build for much of the 20th century.

So then, welcome news but far from the panacea some see it as. The only way to ensure good living standards is to be build more high quality homes and we are a long way from that.

 

8 Comments

  1. NatalieZ

    What’s considered long term?

    • When we’re all dead

    • Mike S

      Exactly. When my mother died, we did a total refurb on the old house, before renting it – our principle was “if we didn’t want to live there, it wasn’t good enough”. Damp work, new electrics, new plumbing & kitchen, replastering, redecorating, etc. The council tax we did pay on an uninhabitable property was a slap in the face, and an incentive to get it back on the market sooner than we wanted by cutting corners.

  2. Mike S

    Noting that predictions are, for a no-deal Brexit, lots of unsaleable properties (poor lending terms, negative equity, job losses), and lots of empty ones as EU citizens leave. Estate agents are all seeing downward pressure on prices, and one strategy is not to be forced into deals at what is hopefully the bottom of the market.

    • Mike – Can assure you that most people under 30 are hoping it is not the bottom of the market.

      • Mike S

        I’m old enough to have been around in the last batch of negative equity. Big falls did not make houses more affordable, they just locked people in for years into houses that they could not sell, and banks wanted far bigger deposits, which puts first timers at an even bigger disadvantage to existing owners. The fall really didn’t help anyone who wasn’t already cash rich.

        So I’m not just saying this because all my savings are in my house value.

  3. Graham

    Greenwich Council themselves leave properties empty while they go through planning permission which is taking months or years rather than weeks. Will these people be charged the 100% rise in Council Tax ? When people sadly pass away their relatives should be given a period of grace while they deal with their relatives estates and probate which takes time.

    Cannot help thinking the rise to 100% for Council Tax on empty properties is to pop up GLLAB and Greenwich Councils fortnightly magazine rather than going to be spent on front line services for education children services and services provided to the elderly and disabled.

  4. anonymous201486

    This measure is just going to swell council coffers. How will it help in getting an empty property occupied?

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