District Council plans to bring empty homes back into use

Posted on: Thursday, February 16, 2023

Newark and Sherwood District Council is setting out proposals to help reduce the number of empty homes in the district by increasing the Council Tax premium charged to owners of properties that have remained empty for a prolonged period of time.

Since 6 December 2012, the amount of Council Tax payable by owners of properties in Newark and Sherwood that have remained empty for more than two years have been charged an empty homes additional premium of 50% more on their Council Tax bill.

In December 2022, it was identified that in the Newark and Sherwood District, there are 234 properties that have been empty for more than two years. Of these, 40 have been empty for longer than 10 years, 73 have been empty between five and 10 years and 121 have been empty between two and five years.

The proposal being taken to the next Cabinet Meeting on 21 February is to increase the Council Tax premium on long-term empty homes to the maximum allowed in regulations. This is being done to encourage owners of these long-term empty properties to bring them back into use either through occupation, rent or sale. This change will also bring the policy in line with the other six district and borough councils in Nottinghamshire, where five are charging the maximum premium possible under the regulation and one charging a 100% premium for properties that have been empty for more than two years.

If approved, the proposal would mean for properties empty for more than two years, a 100% premium; for properties empty for more than five years, but less than 10 years, a 200% premium; and over 10 years to a 300% premium.

Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Many vacant homes can become eyesores, and negatively impact their neighbourhoods significantly – often resulting in vandalism and becoming magnets for anti-social behaviour.

“Our Community Plan has a key objective of creating more and better-quality homes through our roles as landlord, developer and planning authority.

“Returning empty homes to use can be the quickest and most cost-effective way to increase the supply of housing, which is a priority for Central Government to help tackle the current national housing shortage. We really want to maximise our existing housing stock for the benefit of the people of Newark and Sherwood.”

The proposals would also increase income to Nottinghamshire County Council, the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, the Nottinghamshire Fire Authority, Newark and Sherwood District Council and the numerous town and parish councils that all receive money from Council Tax income.

If the increase is approved by Councillors, the District Council will write to each of the current taxpayers impacted to inform them of the changes. Where the current taxpayer has no use for the property, the Council may consider the purchase of the property to bring it back into use, either to offer to its own housing tenants or for the provision of accommodation for the district’s allocation of refugees – which could be partly funded by a newly announced government grant.

An action plan, included in the report to Cabinet, also includes providing support and guidance on returning empty homes back into use and identifying properties that should be prioritised for having the most negative impact, including heritage assets.