Second home owners who leave their properties empty are to be hit with extra council taxes. If they leave the property empty for two years, they will have to pay an extra premium, of a 50% extra tax. The mandatory discount on holiday homes that are used only at weekends is also to be abolished.
Communities minister Andrew Stunell has also announced a £145m fund to be shared between councils and voluntary groups to help tackle empty homes.
The aim is to renovate empty residential properties, including those in private ownership, and restore them to use.
Separately, squatting in residential properties is to become a criminal offence in Britain, after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill received Royal Assent.
As from September 1, squatting will become a criminal offence, meaning that perpetrators will face up to six months in jail and a maximum £5,000 fine if they move into a home owner’s property.