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Councillors to vote on plans to double council tax on empty properties and second homes

12 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Newport City Council\’s headquarters, the Civic Centre. Credit: LDRS

Owners of long-term empty properties and second homes in Newport could face having to pay twice as much council tax from later this year.

An estimated 830 properties in the city have sat empty for a year or longer, and Newport Council believes the premium rate will help bring more properties back into use.

There are around 900 residents currently waiting on the council’s housing register, deputy leader Deb Davies told colleagues at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday January 10.

Cabinet members have endorsed the premiums plan, which leader Jane Mudd said could come into force from April if it gains full council backing later this month.

Long-term empty property owners could be liable for a 100% council tax premium – effectively doubling the amount of tax they must pay.

The premium is significantly less than the 300% maximum Welsh councils are allowed to charge.

Public consultation

Cabinet members heard the rate was chosen following a public consultation on the plan, which found 76% of people wanted the council to do more to tackle the issue of empty homes.

Two-thirds of people said empty homes were “detrimental” to their neighbourhood, and 57% backed the idea of premiums for long-term empty properties.

Cllr Mudd said the policy, if approved, would be “another step forward” and “provide us with another tool” to bring more homes back into use.

There will be some leeway built into the proposed new policy.

New owners of a long-term empty property will not have to pay a premium for the first three months, or for up to six months if major building work is being carried out.

No premiums will be charged on properties attached to a business where there is no separate entrance.

James Clarke, the cabinet member for housing, said the 100% premiums were “in line with” other Welsh local authorities and showed the city council was “listening to the people of Newport”.

Second homes

Councillors will also vote on whether to apply 100% premiums to owners of second homes in the city.

Council research found this was a much smaller issue in Newport, with only 15 second homes recorded.

A report noted second homes were “seen as less detrimental to the neighbourhood than empty properties”, and there was “no clear view” on whether the council should take steps to reduce their numbers.

Some 47% of people told the council they backed introducing a premium for second homes.

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