Homes left vacant for more than 12 months across Liverpool could be slapped with a massive council tax premium under new plans.
As the city council battles with an ongoing housing crisis alongside continuing financial pressures, new proposals have been drawn up to clamp down on the number of empty properties throughout the city. It is hoped tightening up on houses left without occupants will help to bring in vital council tax revenue to help plug the financial gap at the Cunard building.
In some cases, a maximum premium of 300% could be applied to some homes.
Legislation introduced last year gives Liverpool Council additional powers from April first to charge premiums for “empty and substantially unfurnished properties.” New cabinet documents said although the number of empty properties had reduced throughout the city over the last five years, “the council is committed to bringing empty properties back into use quickly and will be maximising the use of the new legislation.”
Subject to the plans being adopted as part of the wider budget setting proposals, the council will begin to charge a premium of 100% of council tax for a house where it has been empty for at least a year, rather than two. In the case of properties left vacant for a decade or more, owners will be charged 300% except for exemptions.
The report said, “This will encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use more quickly and in the meantime maximising income from council tax collection. The additional premium applies to the property and is calculated on the length of time it has been empty which means a change in ownership or tenancy will not affect the premium charged.”
Based on current numbers it is estimated that this premium could generate additional council tax of £330k in 2025/26.
The new legislation introduced by the government will also allow Liverpool Council to charge up to 100% of council tax for second homes from April next year. In such cases, 12 months’ notice would be required.
The budget setting process has been warmly received by government appointed commissioners, who are likely to hand back financial powers to the council ahead of their scheduled departure in June. Offering their assessments of the proposals in the cabinet papers, the officials said: “It is the culmination of some very impressive teamwork within finance and between finance and strategic directors and departments, and between officers and the executive.
“In our view this report proposes a robust budget for 2024/25 and a solid foundation for managing both revenue and capital over the following years of the medium term financial strategy. There are still well documented challenges ahead, but this is what we expect to see at this time.”