Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is consulting on proposals which would bring empty homes back in to use as quickly as possible and generate additional income to help maintain frontline services. The consultation period continues until 7 January 2013.
The council has reacted quickly to a change in legislation introduced by the Government which aims to give councils more flexibility when setting Council Tax levels. The package of measures proposed by the council would target the 1,200 empty homes in the borough and encourage owners to bring this important resource back in to use to help generate additional support for local services across the borough.
The three proposals being consulted on are:
- Introducing an Empty Homes Premium that would mean a premium of 50 per cent on a home which has been empty for more than two years.
- Reducing the current Council Tax exemption for vacant, unfurnished homes from six months to three months on 1 April 2013. This would then be reduced to two months on 1 April 2014 and one month on 1 April 2015.
- Reducing the current Council Tax discount for empty homes undergoing major repairs from 100 per cent to 75 per cent on 1 April 2013. This would then be reduced to 50 per cent on 1 April 2014 and then 25 per cent on 1 April 2015.
Councillor John Cunningham, Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Housing, Health, Wellbeing and Rural Communities, said: ‘the issue of long term empty homes has long been a concern in the borough and the proposed reforms would help encourage owners and landlords to ensure that empty properties are brought back into use as quickly as possible.’
The council will be writing to individuals directly affected by the proposals asking them to complete the consultation on-line. The council would like to hear from as many people as possible and anyone interested in this proposal to reduce the number of empty homes is encouraged to take part by visiting our website and completing the consultation that can be found here: www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/emptyhomes.
If people want further information or have any questions they can contact the council on 01892 526121.