Camden council are planning changes to council tax to bring some of the borough’s one in 16 empty houses back into use while raising up to £2m
Currently, owners of empty habitable properties pay no council tax for six months — this will be removed. Owners of empty uninhabitable properties pay no council tax for 12 months but will in future receive a 25% discount. Owners of properties empty for more than two years will be hit with a new council tax rate of 150% while landlords without a tenant in their property will no longer receive a 10% discount.
According to a Future of London report, 60% of new homes in London were bought by foreign investors while Dave Hill in the Guardian describes London’s housing market as ‘distorted’. London’s popularity for so-called safe haven investment in property appears to be continuing unabated but its impact on the availability of housing has been heavily criticised. Camden’s increased council taxes aims to address this imbalance but as London Central Portfolio CEO Naomi Heaton points out in the BBC report, if a homeowner can afford to leave a property unoccupied for two years, it’s likely that the charges won’t cause them too many sleepless nights.
In December last year, the Ham & High reported that 752 council properties were vacant while the borough’s social housing waiting list topped 18,000. Camden have an empty property action plan which offers grants to encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use.
Photo by buckaroo kid in the Londonist Flickr pool.