Support our Nation today - please donate here

Local authority set to triple council tax for owners of long-term empty houses

10 Mar 2023 5 minute read
Monmouthshire County Council offices. Photo by Jaggery, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

Owners of long-term empty houses in Monmouthshire will have to pay up to three times more council tax from next year.

An additional charge is also set to be slapped on owners of second, or holiday homes, in the county after councillors backed the introduction of council tax premiums.

But Rachel Garrick, the Labour cabinet member responsible for finance, said the intention isn’t to raise extra funds from the properties that are already subject to the full council tax.

“That’s not the main driving part of this,” she said.

“It is to look to free-up housing in local areas to address housing shortages. We have a housing crisis, we have significant cost pressures on housing, we have too many people sat in bed and breakfasts across this county and this paper looks to address this.”

Premiums on long-term empty homes will rise on a sliding scale depending on how long they have been empty, with properties left unused for a year charged a 100 per cent premium increasing every year it is unused up to the maximum 300 per cent premium.

The sliding scale will apply from April 1, 2024, according to how long a property has been registered as empty since 2016.

The council also agreed to charge a 100 per cent premium on second homes, also from April 1 next year, but the cabinet will consider the impact on the local economy before enforcing the charge and could “wind back the proposal” following a review in the autumn.

£1.6 million

The charge, based on current registered properties, could bring in an extra £1.6 million in council tax from empty properties and £365,000 from second homes.

Cllr Garrick said the council’s online public consultation, launched after the cabinet proposed the premiums on January 18, showed the public supported making those with more than one house pay more.

Of the 320 responses received, 63 per cent were in favour of a premium for empty properties, and 54 per cent backed an additional charge for second homes.

The most favoured premium was the 300 per cent charge, with 42 per cent of respondents saying it should apply to empty houses, and 44 per cent backing the highest premium on second homes.

The Caldicot Castle councillor read from some responses to the consultation from people who said how houses in their villages stood empty while young families had to move away and that holiday homes “cause a surge in house prices”.

Cabinet member for communities Sara Burch said the council has “for years” written to the owners of the some 400 long term empty homes to encourage them to bring them into use, and offer support, but said: “Past experience tells us we need the stick as well as the carrot.”


While there are just some 190 second homes in Monmouthshire, the Abergavenny member said: “Currently we are frequently seeing the impact of long term tenants being evicted so that the owners can use the house for holidays or put it on Airbnb. That impact isn’t just cost to the authority but children’s schooling and homelessness.”

Conservative Alistair Neill said just 29 of those who responded were owners of empty properties which he said was likely due to the consultation being held online.

The Gobion Fawr councillor said: “90 per cent of those (empty) home owners were probably unaware of those proposals, they will probably read about them in the newspapers.”

Conservative Rachel Buckler said she would vote against as the policy was being “rushed through” so the charges could be in place for next April and “the responses from purely online engagement were not properly indicative.”

Abergavenny Labour member Martyn Groucutt responded: “Isn’t there an irony in that if you’re a claimant for Universal Credit you have to do it online? If you’re a Monmouthshire second home owner somehow you don’t even know how to use the internet or email.”

Councillors were told all owners of empty and second homes were written to about the consultation.

Exceptions apply to empty homes with those being renovated, for sale or subject to probate exempt and the second home charge wouldn’t apply to properties, such as farm holiday lets, that aren’t suitable for full time use or if there are planning or legal restrictions on their use.

Following review by the council’s scrutiny committee the cabinet has said it could consider further potential exemptions and establish an appeals process.

During the debate Caldicot Labour member Jill Bond asked if councillors needed to declare an interest if they owned such properties but chair Cllr Laura Wright said she had made the standard call for declarations of interest at the start of the meeting and accepted councillors had responded “in good faith”.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
1 year ago

Monmouthshire is one place where this policy can make a difference before the problem of second homes and holiday lets gets out of control. Of course, a Tory Councillor complains that second homeowners can’t use the Internet or an email app, but universal credit claimants are required to. The double standards on display from the raucous right has gone past being tiresome and reached the point where we have to tell these privileged fools to just belt up or get out. I’ve had enough of excuses for the rich and/or privileged, while hard working people, let alone the ones who… Read more »

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Owain Morgan

I think we should applaud the proposal to increase council tax on long term empty properties. The more councils that do it the more others will follow.

1 year ago
Monmouthshire on the same page as Gwynedd? Excellent. The fact that Welsh County Councils are now using new WG legislation effectively to help solve the country's housing crisis is a very posiitive sign.
1 year ago

Monmouthshire on the same page as Gwynedd? Excellent. The fact that Welsh county councils are now beginning to use new WG legislation to help solve the country’s housing crisis is a very positive sign.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 year ago

I agree it is wrong for houses to remain empty for years Why this happens mystifies me. This trend by Govt and Councils to “consult” however worries me especially as so few actually ever respond and then you take the results as justification for your actions smacks me as very poor leadership.

1 year ago

You’re right, especially if it’s done online, which often leads to a skewed result that understates the strength of opposition to holiday homes thanks to votes from members of the second homes lobby with no holiday home in the area. But on a democratic level, it’s entirely justified.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.