MPs debate new legislation to bring long-term empty homes back into use
Measures to equip councils with powers to bring thousands of long-term empty homes back into use have been debated this week in Parliament.
The new legislation will allow councils to charge double the rate of Council Tax on homes left empty for years. Local authorities can currently levy a 50% premium.
Whilst the number of homes empty for 6 months or longer remains substantially lower than when records began in 2004, councils will be handed powers to levy additional charges on homes standing empty for 2 years or more.
The move is one of a range of measures introduced by the government to fix the country’s broken housing market, and councils will be able to use funds from the premium to keep Council Tax levels down for working families.
Through an ambitious package of long-term reform and targeted investment, the government is ensuring communities have the homes they need.
Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak, said "While we should celebrate the number of long-term empty homes dropping by a third since 2010, there are still 200,000 vacant properties across the country.
"This bill hands councils further tools to bring much-needed homes back into use and provide thousands of families with a place to call home."
There are currently just over 200,000 long-term empty dwellings in England, compared to 300,000 in 2010.
The number has reduced since 2013, when councils were given powers to charge a 50% premium on Council Tax bills. The vast majority of councils currently apply this premium on long-term empty homes.