23 October 2013

Council proposes further reductions of council tax discounts on empty homes

Residents are being asked to comment on proposals to further reduce council tax discounts on empty properties.

In April Brighton & Hove City Council began charging owners of empty unfurnished properties much sooner (previously council tax on these properties was waived for six months and this was reduced to six weeks).

The proposal is to reduce this to four weeks which is in line with what other councils have done, including Adur, Mid Sussex and Lewes.

To help encourage owners to make their empty homes available as soon as possible, there is also a proposal is to end the 10% council tax discount on empty furnished properties that are to be re-let. It would bring these properties in line with the council’s approach to council tax discounts on second homes - in April 2013 the council removed the discount.

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “Brighton & Hove has an acute housing shortage and we can’t afford to have properties standing empty, especially for long periods. Reducing council tax discounts on empty homes will help encourage more properties to be brought back into use more quickly. We recognise, though, that there will be gaps between occupancy of unfurnished properties, so the discount will still be available, but for a shorter time.”

The council would also have the discretion to extend the discount period for a further four weeks in exceptional cases where properties cannot be turned around in time because, for example, they have been affected by a fire or a flood.

To take part in the consultation go to: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/counciltax

(or http://consult.brighton-hove.gov.uk/portal/bhcc/budget/ct_property_discount/counsultation or

http://bit.ly/18FqxYj )

Deadline for comments is 20 November. Consultation results will be reported to the 12 December council meeting.

If agreed the adjustments would come in from 1 April 2014.