Landlords who leave homes in Portsmouth empty could be slapped with higher council tax bills
TOUGH new council tax rules could see property owners in the city targeted for leaving homes empty.
As part of Portsmouth City Council's budget for 2019/20 homeowners who have left buildings unused for several years could see their council tax payments quadruple.
If approved the system will be incremental, with council tax for properties left empty for between two and five years rising by an additional 100 per cent, between five and ten years by 200 per cent and more than ten years, by 300 per cent.
It is thought the policy will open up hundreds properties to both rent and buy in the city as well as boost income from council tax, since there are currently an estimated 2,000 empty homes in Portsmouth.
Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'Hopefully this will encourage people to be able to bring that property back into use and not leave it lying empty.
'The more properties we have available in the city ultimately means less homes needing to be built. Increasing council tax will also bring more money into the council.'
Deputy leader, Cllr Steve Pitt, added: ‘Everybody knows the pressure on the council to provide good housing for people in Portsmouth. We have got a large number of houses sitting empty.
‘We’ve got to do all we can to make sure as many houses are brought back into use.
‘This policy is something that all councils have been waiting for for a long time.’
Council tax proposals could also benefit some of Portsmouth's most vulnerable.
It is recommended that the council approves plans to scrap council tax for any young adults who leave care between the age of 18 and 25.
This had previously been a hot topic at the council, with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan lobbying for change.
In a letter to the council Mr Morgan had said: 'Research from The Centre for Social Justice has found that over half (57 per cent) of young people leaving care have difficulty managing their money and avoiding debt when leaving care.
'At the end of the last financial year, the city council was supporting 153 young people as care leavers, 36 of whom were unaccompanied minors.
'Council tax exemption is backed by the Children’s Society and councils across the country are being ambitious for young people in their care by delivering on this commitment. This is an issue that comes up time and time again with care leavers. If other councils can, Portsmouth can.'
Around 90 local authorities across England have given care leavers council tax exemption. This affected more than 28,000 individuals.
All budget proposals for 2019/20 will need to be approved at a cabinet meeting next week before going to full council for decision on February 12.