RCTC Cabinet progresses Council Tax premium proposal for long-term empty homes

Cabinet has agreed to progress proposals to introduce Council Tax premiums for long-term empty properties and second homes in Rhondda Cynon Taf, having considered the feedback received in a recent consultation. 

Following this decision on Monday, December 12, Cabinet will now recommend to full council to adopt the proposals. If agreed, this would introduce the Council Tax premiums from April 2023 for long-term empty properties that have remained empty for more than a year, and April 2024 for all second homes.

On October 17, Cabinet agreed a new Empty Homes Strategy (2022-2025) to continue the positive work that has helped bring 662 homes back into use since 2018 (a 19% reduction). Empty homes are a financial expense and a wasted resource that could instead provide much-needed affordable housing, while their appearance can be unsightly and they can attract anti-social behaviour.

An objective of the new strategy is to use a range of interventions to help empty homes be brought back into use, including reviewing Council Tax premiums for long-term empty properties and second homes. While agreeing the new strategy in October, Cabinet also agreed to consult on the following proposals:

  • Introducing a Council Tax premium for long-term empty properties, at 50% for homes empty between 1-2 years (50% rise from current level) and at 100% for homes empty for at least two years (100% rise from current level). This would come into effect from April 1, 2023.
  • Introducing a 100% Council Tax premium for all second homes (100% rise from the current level), coming into effect from April 1, 2024.

The consultation ran from October 24 to November 21. The Council sent a letter to all owners of long-term empty properties and second homes in the County Borough (2,699 in total), to inform them of how to take part. The public could also have their say via an online survey and a dedicated email address.

During the consultation 311 responses were received including 242 surveys. In total, 42.5% of all respondents agreed with the proposals for empty properties and 38.8% for second homes. However, of the respondents who identified themselves as a resident (rather than a homeowner who would be directly affected by the proposal), 65.3% agreed with the proposals for long-term empty properties, and 60% agreed with the second homes proposal.

The consultation feedback was provided within an Appendix to Monday’s Cabinet report. This is available to view on the Council’s website.

Councillor Mark Norris, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Prosperity, said: “Cabinet has agreed to progress with the proposals to introduce Council Tax premiums for long-term empty properties and second homes. In reaching this decision Members considered the feedback from residents in the recent public consultation. These measures will further reduce empty properties, increasing the availability of affordable housing, and have a positive impact on communities.

“We recently adopted a new Empty Homes Strategy up to 2025, building on the proactive work that has helped bring 662 empty properties back into use since 2018. This has included leading on the Valleys Taskforce Empty Homes Grant Scheme, supporting the Houses into Homes and Homestep Plus schemes, hosting the RCT Landlord Forum, and working with Registered Social Landlords to bring town centre commercial space into use.

“This work has made a real difference in reducing the number of empty homes by 19%, but there remains a significant number in the County Borough including 905 properties which have been empty for more than four years. The number of second homes has also increased to 346. This is why Cabinet Members agreed to consult on proposals to introduce Council Tax Premiums on properties that have been empty for over a year, and on all second homes.

“The feedback suggests the majority of respondents who aren’t owners of empty properties or second homes agreed with the proposals – while in some cases empty property and second homeowners also showed support. Cabinet concluded that proceeding is the right thing to do, at a time when there are significant housing pressures. We’ve already seen that introducing a 100% Council Tax rate for empty properties in April 2018 had a positive impact, with homeowners and landlords more likely to seek the available support to bring their property back into use.

“To help with bringing properties back into use, a number of grants remain available to help owners renovate their empty homes. It is also important to note that there are exemptions to the proposals to introduce Council Tax premiums – for example, where properties have been reasonably marketed for let or sale. Cabinet will now recommend to Full Council that the proposals go ahead.”

Posted on 19/12/2022
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