100% council tax premium agreed for second and long-term empty homes
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Conwy County Council has voted in favour of charging a 100% council tax premium for both second and long-term empty homes from April 2024.
This final decision follows backing for the move from the council’s cabinet earlier this month and includes an indicative premium level of 200% on both second homes and empty properties from April 1, 2025.
At that same time, an increased premium of 300% will be introduced for properties empty for five years or more, subject to a review during 2024/2025.
It is hoped the premium will help bring long-term empty homes back into use, increasing the supply of affordable housing, enhancing the sustainability of communities, and helping meet the county’s housing needs.
Cllr Goronwy Edwards said there was currently around 1,400 long-term empty properties in Conwy and over 1,000 second homes.
Cllr Edwards explained why he supported the move.
“At the same time, we have around 2,000 people on the housing waiting list, and we have 500 people in emergency accommodation,” he said.
“So you can see the problem that exists in Conwy. So hopefully this will encourage more houses to become available.”
Leader Cllr Charlie McCoubrey agreed, and whilst he acknowledged tourism was important for the economy, he said families living in houses generated more money than second-home owners.
He said: “There will be some people who use this (their property) purely as a second home and don’t come that often. There will be some people who come a lot. There will be some people who may rent them out. But there is a range there. A lot of the objections are ‘I spend money in local shops’ – well I would make the case that I am here 51 weeks a year, as is my family, and I spend that money every single week. I think that’s more beneficial than somebody who is here occasionally. ”
But Cllr Louise Emery didn’t agree.
She said, “I think there’s a big difference between empty homes and second homes.
“I understand some empty homes are stuck in probate or arguing and have been inherited by families, and nobody can agree, and they end up becoming empty for that period of time. But there have been some houses in Llandudno empty for years, and it just doesn’t make any sense.
“So in terms of empty homes, I kind of support it 100%, but when it comes to second homes, I think we’ve gone far enough.”
She added, “I voted for 50% last year because I think that is fair. We presume all people with second homes are wealthy. But we don’t really have too much evidence of that. We don’t see their bank accounts, do we?”
But Cllr Austin Roberts disagreed.
“After all, the purpose of a house is to be a home, ” he said.
“We call these houses second homes, but they are not homes. That is the point. Because if something is a home, then it is being lived in.
“I don’t always disagree with Cllr Louise, but I’m going to disagree this time. It is very easy for you to say people who own second houses aren’t rich, and you can’t see their bank balance. But I’ll tell you one thing – their bank balance is much better than somebody who can’t afford any house.”
The latest decision follows the council agreeing last December to charge a 50% council tax premium for both second homes and long-term empty homes from April 2023.
An indicative level of 100% premium for second homes and long-term empty homes was recommended for 2024/2025, subject to a review in 2023/2024.
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