Council Tax to double for empty and second homes

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Owners of empty properties and second homes in Hackney will soon see their Council Tax doubled as part of a new crackdown on underused housing in the borough.

Under plans agreed by the Council’s Cabinet yesterday (22 January 2024), any home that has sat empty for at least 12 months will be charged twice the usual Council Tax rate from this April. This is expected to expand the Empty Property Council Tax Premium, which currently applies to homes that have been vacant for two years or more, to more than 500 properties across the borough.

The Council will also progress plans to double Council Tax bills for owners of second homes – homes that are used periodically rather than as a main residence – from April 2025 using new national legislation that came into force in October.

With over 8,000 families on the Council’s housing waiting list – including more than 3,000 living in hostels and other temporary accommodation and eight primary schools’ worth of children without a permanent home – the move aims to encourage property owners to use homes for local families who need them most, rather than keep them empty.

The increased Council Tax levy will also provide extra income to contribute towards vital local services, with an ongoing lack of government investment forcing the Council to find  £57m in savings over the next three years.

Caroline Woodley, Mayor of Hackney

It can’t be right that homes in Hackney are sitting empty at a time where rents are rising, housing waiting lists are growing and buying a property is completely out of reach of so many people.

As we work for a fairer Hackney, we’re introducing new measures that will encourage owners to use residential property as it should be used – as much-needed homes for local families who need them, rather than left empty or used as financial investments.

But it also demonstrates that – at a time where we’re forced to make big savings – we’ll protect those who need it most and encourage property owners to do the right thing.

Caroline Woodley, Mayor of Hackney

The increased Council Tax on empty properties will be introduced as part of the Council’s new budget for 2023-24, which will also see low income working households receive increased discounts of up to 90% on their Council Tax.

The Council expects to formally signal its intent to double Council Tax on second homes by April 2024, which will enable it to charge the increase from April 2025.