Council announces changes to council tax charges for long-term empty properties and second homes

View of West Lindsey

Homeowners in West Lindsey are being informed of changes to Council tax charges, which comes into effect from 1 April 2024.

The changes apply to people who own second homes in the district, who will be asked to pay the 100% charge as opposed to the current 90% charge.

In addition, long term unoccupied and substantially unfurnished property charges will increase depending how long properties have been vacant. A 100% premium council tax charge will be payable for empty homes after two years – meaning the actual council tax charge will be 200%. This rises to 200% after five years - which means charge 300% and up to 300% after 10 years which means charge 400%.

New legislation was introduced in April 2020 by the government enabling local authorities to increase the amount of this premium for properties that have been empty for over 5 years. The reason for this premium is to encourage owners of empty properties to bring their properties back into use.

West Lindsey District Council approved the increase to the council tax charges at its council meeting last month, following approval at the Policy and Resources Committee. Letters have now been issued to all residents affected in the district explaining the changes. 

Leader of the Council, Cllr Trevor Young said the charges were in line with other Lincolnshire councils. He said: 

“We know there is a high demand for housing in the district and the new charges demonstrate our commitment to bringing empty homes back into use. Increasing the empty property premium will discourage owners from speculatively purchasing houses that they do not intend for immediate use. 

“Bringing buildings back into use will reduce the need for housing demand elsewhere and reduces the need for carbon intensive construction, which supports our ambition to be net zero by 2050.

“In order to encourage the renovation and reoccupation of long-term empty properties, exception and discounts may be granted.”

There are three exceptions where the empty property premium will not be added. 

These are: 

  1. A property which has been left empty by a member of the Armed Forces who has been posted away from home.
  2. A property which is an annexe to another property and it is being used as part of the main property.
  3. Homes that are a residential pitch occupied by a caravan or a mooring occupied by a boat will not be liable for the empty homes premium and will qualify for a 50% discount.

In certain circumstances long term empty properties liable for a premium charge may be eligible for an exception to this premium, reducing the charge to 100% Council Tax. This is awarded for a maximum of 12 months, but certain criteria must be fulfilled:

  • owners who are genuinely attempting to sell or let their property which has been vacant for at least 2 years.
  • owners who are experiencing particular legal or technical issues preventing the sale or let of the property.
  • owners who are in negotiation with the Empty Property team.

In order to encourage the renovation and subsequent reoccupation of long-term empty properties, a further exception or discount may be granted. For properties to qualify the following criteria must be fulfilled:

The property must have changed hands, and the new owner must provide evidence of a firm commitment to bring the property back into use within 12 months. Evidence will be required which may include builder’s quotes and confirmation of work started or other evidence supporting the work that is being undertaken. An inspection by one of our officers may be required to confirm the works are underway.

If you believe you are eligible for an exception please complete the Application for Exception to Premium form and return to the Council’s revenues team along with supporting evidence as requested on the form.

For more details please visit our Council Tax discounts and exemptions webpage.

For the latest news on West Lindsey District Council visit our council news pages

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