Under Lib Dem leadership, Bath and North East Somerset Council is taking action on empty properties which blight communities and waste valuable housing stock.
Bath and North East Somerset councillors have approved an additional Council Tax scheme to incentivise owners to bring properties back into use. This is part of a range of tools to tackle empty homes, which starts with engagement and support for owners who are struggling.
Housing is a key priority for the Lib Dem administration. The council is tackling the affordability crisis from all angles, using planning, partnerships and direct developments to create more affordable homes.
Councillor Richard Samuel (Walcot), who introduced the Empty Homes report at full Council yesterday evening, said:
“It is our responsibility to ensure the most efficient use of the housing stock within Bath and North East Somerset and to use the widest range of powers to achieve this aim.
“We hold this duty because it is morally wrong to allow homes to sit empty whilst there are people forced to live on the streets, sofa surf, or live in cramped sub-standard housing.
“The council encourages re-use by providing assistance and advice first, but the additional council tax provides a further tool to encourage owners to bring their homes into use. Ensuring dwellings are brought back into occupation by negotiation is our preference and the council’s Empty Properties team have a great success rate.
Everyone deserves the chance to live in decent housing, particularly children as this provides the best start in life.”
During the debate, councillors shared examples of long-term empty homes which had become a focus for antisocial behaviour. Action by the council to bring these properties back into use had a positive impact on communities.
- Council report: Council Tax – Long Term Empty Property Premiums (pdf) (12.11.20).
- ‘Premium’ refers to the amount on top of the original Council Tax charge – the premiums from April 2021 will be 100% after two years empty, 200 per cent after five years empty and 300 per cent after 10 years empty. The council has discretion in difficult cases and there are exemptions e.g. for care home residents.
The proposal was adopted unanimously bar one abstention.