Changes to council tax for empty properties
Welsh Government is looking for ways to improve supply of properties to rent. They are looking at wide range of actions that could be taken to improve housing in Wales. One of the proposals was to look at giving the council powers to charge higher rate of council tax if the property is empty for a prolonged period of time.
This could potentially affect large number of landlords who, for various reasons, have an empty property. At the moment, Merthyr Tydfil council does not charge council tax on empty property for the first 6 months and a normal rate after that. This however may change as soon as April next year.
A consultation period for ‘Council Tax and Long-Term Empty Homes in Wales’ has just finished and from the information we have recently had it very much looks like the changes may be coming. The most important change would be a discretionary power for the council to charge additional council tax on properties deemed to be classed as ‘long-term’ empty. The details are yet to be announced but this is what you could expect:
- the new law could come in force as soon as April 2014,
- local council will have discretion to decide if they want to charge additional council tax if the property is empty for longer than 12 months,
- the additional council tax might be as high as 100% of the normal rate,
- and, what’s more important, the current exemption for the first 6 months, which is at a discretion of local council, might be done away with in Merthyr Tydfil borough (and there are number of councils that charge council tax from day one already).
All in all, an important thing to keep ones eye on if you are a landlord (or an owner of second home) in Wales.The link to the WAGs website with the consultation documents is here.