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Empty and second homes in County Durham could soon be subject to more tax

Durham County Council’s Cabinet is being recommended to approve proposals which include additional charges on properties that have been empty for over 12 months, and those that have been empty for more than 10 years.

The plans are intended to bring properties back into use whilst also generating additional spending power for the authority, at a time when it is having to make millions of pounds of savings.

The Northern Echo: Second and empty homes in County Durham could be subject to more taxSecond and empty homes in County Durham could be subject to more tax (Image: CONTRIBUTOR)

The proposals have been subject to consultation.

Cllr Richard Bell, the council’s deputy Leader and portfolio holder for finance, said: “As with councils up and down the country, we are currently faced with making very difficult decisions to try and balance our budgets.

“We have to look across our service areas, and the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which was passed into law in October, paves the way for local authorities to consider extra council tax charges on long-term empty and second homes.

“Given the position we are in, it is only right that we join a number of other councils in exploring this option.

He added: “There was recognition from those taking part in the consultation that our proposals would reduce the number of empty properties and, therefore, increase the availability of housing, including affordable homes.

“Respondents also acknowledged that the proposals would generate spending power for us as we try to balance our budgets. We would like to thank everyone who took part.”

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A report to the meeting sets out how more than 56 per cent of respondents to the consultation either agreed or strongly agreed with increased premiums for properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than ten years. Of the 656 responses, 209 strongly agreed and 159 agreed.

The proposals that the Cabinet is being asked to approve at its meeting next Wednesday, November 15 would:

  • Increase the council tax premium charge for properties which have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than ten years from 200 to 300 per cent. This is in line with existing legislation and if agreed would take effect from 1 April 2024.
  • Reduce the period of time a property can be unoccupied and unfurnished before being subject to a 100 per cent council tax premium, from two years to one year. If agreed, this would come in from 1 April 2024.
  • Apply a 100 per cent council tax premium charge on second homes – properties where there is no resident, and which are substantially furnished. If agreed, this would come in from 1 April 2025.



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