Here's why owners of empty homes in Havant may soon have to pay 300 per cent more council tax

OWNERS of empty homes could face a surge in their council tax of as much as 300 per cent as councillors look to crack down on the number of vacant properties across their borough.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 4:49 pm
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 5:06 pm

The rates, which could roll out in Havant, would see owners of homes left empty for two to five years pay 100 per cent extra tax from April 2020.

It would apply to each vacant home separately, with properties empty for more than five years hit with a bill for 200 per cent more council tax.

If the changes are introduced the premium would rise to 300 per cent more tax on homes that have been empty for more than a decade in 2021.

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The council tax premium would be aimed at bringing down the number of empty homes in Havant

Tim Pike, Havant Borough Council’s deputy leader and cabinet lead for planning, regeneration and communities, said: ‘We don’t want to see homes sat empty when we’ve got people sitting waiting for homes of their own.

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‘This is part of the mixture of carrots and sticks available to try and ensure that all the homes in the borough are put to good use.’

As of August, 2019, 101 properties across the borough had been empty for between two and five years.

Twenty-two others were vacant for between five and 10 years and six had been unused and substantially unfurnished for more than a decade.

Councillor Lulu Bowerman, Havant’s cabinet boss for people and communications, also backed the motion as it appeared at a meeting yesterday.

She said: ‘I have no problem with it. I think it’s a great way forward to try and bring back into use some of the empty homes.'

A 50 per cent empty homes premium was introduced in Havant in April 2013. Homes empty for two years or more have fallen by 198 since.

Council leader Michael Wilson was the only cabinet member to vote against the new hikes.

He said: ‘I'm not convinced. We rely on evidence for our policy and I have not seen any evidence here this would make any difference.’

Using 2019/20 rates, the premiums would increase council tax income in Havant by £119,272 in 2020/21. Once the money due to the county council, fire and police is stripped, Havant Borough Council’s share would be £14,253.

This sum would rise to £128,484 in 2021/22, with Havant council’s share upping to £15,353.

Exemptions for the premiums would apply to members of the armed forces who are away for work.

However the rates would not be reset if an empty home got a new owner and remained empty, or if it belonged to someone who had died.

The motion is expected to be put before Havant’s full council in the new year.