The largest local authority in the UK has announced that it plans to charge full council tax on empty properties from next April.
Birmingham City Council, like other local authorities, currently allows a ‘council tax free’ period of six months for empty properties, and an exemption of 12 months on properties undergoing structural repair.
The move has concerned local landlords and agents, worried about the cost implications for rental properties with voids between tenancies, or which are empty while work is done on them.
As the council explains on its website, at the moment council tax benefit is administered by councils but paid for by the Government.
However, council tax benefit is to be abolished and replaced from next April by new local financial support schemes, called council tax support. How these schemes are operated will be decided by local authorities themselves.
The Government has also said that the amount it pays local authorities for their new schemes will be 10% less than it currently pays for council tax benefit. For Birmingham Council, this means a funding gap of £10.9m.
The council has said that the neediest claimants will not be affected by the change – for example, pensioners and people on benefits.
However, it will scrap council tax exemptions and discounts on second homes and on properties which are empty and unfurnished, or under structural repair.
The council is also proposing to impose council tax at the rate of 150% on properties empty for two years or more.
The proposals are now going to consultation.
We would be interested to hear of other local councils’ moves relating to the changes to council tax next April, and how landlords view these.