Rhondda Cynon Taf councillors back 100% council tax premium on second homes
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
Plans to charge higher levels of council tax for second homes and long-term empty properties in Rhondda Cynon Taf have got the backing of the council’s cabinet.
At their meeting on Monday, December 12, cabinet approved a report that will see the proposed introduction of the premiums recommended to full council for approval.
Cabinet considered the feedback from the consultation on the proposals that recommend charging a 50% premium on properties which have been empty for between one and two years and a 100% premium on those empty for more than two years.
It is also proposed to charge a council tax premium of 100% for all properties classified as a second home.
Long-term empty properties
It is proposed that the premium for long-term empty properties would come in from April 1, 2023, while the premium for second homes would come in from April 1, 2024.
The council would write to each home-owner, once a decision is made, to tell them about any changes.
The charging of a premium on long-term empty properties would raise additional revenue through council tax, the report said
This is has been initially estimated at £1.5m but will be reviewed and confirmed once the exceptions are identified and applied.
The charging of a premium on second homes would raise an estimated extra £400,000 in council tax.
From April 1, 2017, councils in Wales have been able to charge a premium of up to 100% on top of the standard rate of council tax on second homes and long-term empty properties.
From April 1, 2023, the regulations will be updated, following a Welsh Government consultation, to allow councils to charge a maximum premium of 300% on top of the standard rate of council tax.
RCT’s cabinet on October 17 considered and agreed a new empty homes strategy for 2022-25.
One of the objectives of the strategy is to use a range of interventions
to ensure all types of empty homes are targeted and enabled to be brought back into use.
This includes reviewing council tax premiums for long-term empty homes and
At the same meeting cabinet agreed to undertake a consultation on the proposal to introduce a council tax premium on long-term empty properties and second homes.
The report for the October cabinet meeting said that despite the removal of a 50% discount in the council tax in April 2018 there remain almost 2,000 long-term empty properties across Rhondda Cynon Taf.
It said: “The prospect of paying a premium on the council tax bill may encourage more property owners to bring their empty homes back into use in a timelier manner.”
It said that the number of properties classified as “second homes” is increasing within Rhondda Cynon Taf (by more than 80% since April 2018) and while these are still relatively low (346) the properties are being kept vacant for long periods and in general are being prevented from being part of the available housing stock.
The report said it would be reasonable to consider whether a premium should be paid in addition to the council tax liability.
Overall 311 responses were received to the consultation and the majority of comments were from owners of empty properties and second homes disagreeing with the proposals.
The consultation report said the most frequent concern expressed was that a blanket policy of higher rates will unfairly affect people with individual circumstances beyond their control.
These included increased costs of renovation work or a struggle to source supplies and/or labour, collapsed sales or longer than expected time spent on the sales or letting markets, inherited property, m being unable to meet the costs of selling or letting a property, having ties to the local area but being unable to live here at present, and a number of other situations.
The report said that a number of people who responded have let, currently let, or intend to let properties but state that they are unable to afford or complete necessary works to bring properties up to legislative standards.
The causes of this raised by those who responded included damage by former tenants, unexpected redundancy or ill-health and a perceived excessive legislative burden.
The consultation report said that when the proposals are analysed in the survey by the type of respondent the majority of residents agreed with the two proposals (65.3% for the empty properties proposal and 60% for the second homes proposal).
The percentage of empty property owners who agreed with the empty property proposal was 8.5% and for the second homes proposal it was 15.5%
The percentage of second home owners who agreed with the second homes proposal was 2.7% and for the empty homes proposal it was 27%.
Cabinet member Councillor Christina Leyshon said they’re considering these proposals because they want to bring long term empty properties back into use to provide safe, secure and affordable homes as well as increasing the supply of housing and enhancing the stability of communities.
She said: “Empty properties have always had a detrimental effect on our communities not only as a loss of what could be a lovely home, much needed in RCT, but also on the dwellings adjoining these properties.”
The leader of the council Councillor Andrew Morgan said empty properties are a blight on communities and he said these proposals do give owners the opportunity to deal with these properties and that there’s also the empty property grant to help bring them back into use.
He said: “At a time when we have a real shortage of properties we have to say to people either renovate them and live in them or sell them and let somebody else do it. We can’t just allow people to hold on to them.”
He also said there are a significant number owned by people who don’t live in RCT and he said it’s the right thing to do particularly during these times.
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