Rhondda Cynon Taf councillors to discuss 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 are set to advance next week.
The council’s cabinet will be asked at their meeting on Monday, December 12, how they wish to proceed with the proposed introduction of a premium and recommend the proposed way forward to full council.
Cabinet will consider the feedback from the consultation on proposals to charge 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.
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 homeowner, 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 second homes.
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%.
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