Lewisham home owners who cannot rent out their properties this year will face an increase of up to 100 percent in their council tax, it’s been announced.
Currently for homeowners whose properties have been empty for less than two years, there is a surcharge of 50 percent extra on top of the normal rate. If a house or flat is unoccupied for two years or more, the increment will be double.
Since 2013, local authorities have had the power to charge owners of empty houses an extra premium on their council tax. Currently, the charges on empty homes is 50 percent higher than rented properties. Following a change made in November 2018 to the Local Government Finance Act (2012), Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan approved the increase for the borough.
The increases take effect from April 1. Homes left empty for two to five years will have to fork out a premium of 100 percent. There will be a 200 percent premium on those left empty for five years or more, and extra increases past that.
There is one exception: members of the armed forces are exempt from paying the surcharge on their properties.
“This report recommends that the premium increases from 50 per cent to 100 per cent from April 1 2020 for properties empty between two and five years and 200 per cent for those properties empty five year or more.”Lewisham’s Mayor, Damien Egan
On its website the council explained: “We’re doing this to encourage property owners to open up their empty homes to tenants.” The extra money raised for the council in 2020/21 is estimated to be £70 million pounds in council taxes.