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Higher premiums for empty Grantham homes

Owners of empty dwellings in South Kesteven face a hefty increase in council tax should their properties remain empty for long.

A meeting of the district council’s cabinet last Thursday has backed a report by cabinet member for finance Councillor Adam Stokes, calling for the penalty rates to be introduced from 2019/20.

South Kesteven has 100 dwellings that have been empty for two-five years, 31 empty for five-10 years and 28 empty for longer than 10 years.

At present, councils and other billing authorities can charge up to 150 per cent on dwellings which have been ‘unoccupied and substantially unfurnished’ for over two years.

Furthermore, no council tax is paid for the first month a dwelling is empty, followed by a further 25 per cent discount for a further five months. After this, a full 100 per cent charge applies if it remains unoccupied and substantially unfurnished. Any dwelling left empty for more than two years incurs a premium charge of 50 per cent council tax.

New legislation on the ‘empty homes premium’ has been introduced that allows councils from 2019/20 to charge a 100 per cent premium for substantially unfurnished dwellings empty for two-five years. Then, in 2020/21 those empty for five-10 years will face a 200 per cent premium and the following year, those empty for more than 10 years will face a 300 per cent premium.

A council report added: “The primary objective of the premium charge is to encourage the property owners to proactively seek occupancy of the residential property in order to help maximise occupancy of the housing stock in the district.”

Cabinet members passed the move without debate.

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