Empty homes tax: Wakefield landlords to be given more time before paying premium

Landlords who snap up empty properties in Wakefield are set to be given more time before they have to pay additional council tax charges.

The council introduced the empty homes premium eight years ago.
The council introduced the empty homes premium eight years ago.

The empty homes premium was first introduced by Wakefield Council in 2013, to discourage property owners from sitting on unused homes.

The premium is applied if a home has been empty for two years or more and is added to household council tax bills. The charge doubles after five years and trebles after 10 years.

But now the council is set to tweak the system, amid concerns it is putting off buyers who'd want to renovate properties that have fallen into disrepair.

The issue will be discussed by the council's Cabinet next week.

Under proposed changes to be discussed by senior councillors next week, landlords who buy empty homes already subject to the premium could get a three-month grace period from paying the extra tax.

Those who intend to actually live in a property after they've renovated it would be entitled to go six months without paying the premium.

The council's Cabinet member for resources, Councillor Michelle Collins, said: "There’s a need to encourage people to bring empty homes back into use.

“But we don’t want to punish those who need to take a little longer to get it right before they can live in the property.”

Councillor Michelle Collins said the local authority didn't want to "punish" people intent on bringing homes back into use.

The local authority says the move will allow more time for property developers to make homes fit for use again.

It follows a complaint made against Wakefield Council from a property owner, who was forced to pay the empty homes premium within three months of him buying it, because the home itself had reached the two-year threshold.

He claimed the house itself was "uninhabitable" and that because he was trying to renovate he should be exempt from paying it.

But an Ombudsman rejected his complaint in May this year, saying the charges he was paying were "consistent" with the council's policy.

Local Democracy Reporting Service