Council takes action to bring empty properties back into use
Last night (16 January 2024), Cabinet voted to charge 200% Council Tax on properties that have been empty for 12 months, reduced from two years, to encourage the owners to bring them back into use.
The charge, which will take effect on 1 April 2024, comes alongside plans for a new double Council Tax bill on fully furnished second homes and holiday lets for the periods they are empty, with councillors at the meeting agreeing this will be levied from 1 April 2025.
It is estimated that in London alone there are 34,000 long-term empty dwellings, including more than 1,000 in Haringey.
The additional income from both measures will fund vital council services, helping to plug the gap left by 13 years of central government underfunding.
Cllr Dana Carlin, Cabinet Member for Finance and Local Investment, said:
We are determined to turn Haringey’s empty dwellings into new homes.
Londoners are in the grip of a housing crisis, and bringing unoccupied homes into use is part of the solution. Across the capital there are more than 34,000 long-term empty homes – that is over half the number of London households that are currently homeless and living in temporary accommodation.
In Haringey we have more than 13,000 households on our housing waiting list and last year alone we received 4,400 homelessness applications, one of the highest in London.
When affordable and good quality homes are in such short supply, empty properties – whether it is a short-term holiday let, a second home, or a home left empty – drives up the cost of renting locally.
We believe it’s fair that those who can afford to keep their properties unoccupied for long periods of time should either contribute more to preventing homelessness or explore more socially responsible ways for their properties to provide them income.
Both measures are being introduced following changes in legislation after a campaign by councils across the country called for the government to give them more powers to tackle empty homes, which can also attract vandalism and antisocial behaviour.
According to Council Tax base calculations, there are currently 1,028 properties in Haringey which have been empty for between 12 months and five years. Applying the premium is expected to raise an additional £900,000 a year.
Even more properties, 1,067, are registered as fully furnished second homes – 479 with no resident for more than a year and 588 for less than 12 months. Legislation means councils must decide to charge a premium one year before its introduction, meaning a start date of 1 April 2025.
The sweeping measures will help pay for vital services at a time when the council is facing unprecedented pressure on its budget because of a several factors beyond its control.
Haringey’s core government funding is now an estimated £143m less a year in real terms than it was in 2010/11. Meanwhile, demand for adult social care services has dramatically increased as people live longer and often need more complex support.
This coupled with other pressures, such as persistently high inflation pushing up costs, increased homelessness and residents needing more support because of the cost-of-living crisis, is putting the council’s budget under significant strain.