Call to scrap council tax perks for second homeowners

Call to scrap council tax perks for second homeowners

13:47 PM, 7th April 2011, About 13 years ago 1

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Homeless charity Shelter is calling for the scrapping of council tax discounts on second homes and property that stands empty.

A new study looking at ways to maximise the use of existing housing reckons ending the discount would raise £42 million a year that councils and the government could divert to improving housing supply.  This appears to be another badly considered plan following their controversial video and statistics that yet again give landlords a bad name. What are Shelter playing at?   Do they not see that the vast majority of private landlords solve thousand’s more housing problems than a very small percentage of rogue landlords create?

The charity also advocates council tax rates are set higher for second homes and property owners who choose to let homes stand empty.

Shelter says second home ownership has surged since 1990 and now accounts for around 252,000 properties.

The majority are holiday homes (50%) or long-term investments (40%); with 17% purchased with the aim of providing retirement income; 9% rented out by reluctant landlords who had to move but could not sell and 8% are crash-pads for professionals who work too far away from home to commute daily.

Many second homes are in holiday areas, like Cornwall, Norfolk and Cumbria, where some communities claim house prices are not affordable for locals.

Councils can cut council tax for second homeowners by up to 50%.

Shelter Chief Executive Campbell Robb said: “Our housing crisis has never run deeper, with millions on waiting lists and increasing numbers of young people unable to get on the housing ladder in their local area. With government cuts of more than 60% to the budget for new homes, we need to explore every possible way in which existing housing stock can be used to ease our desperate shortage of affordable homes.

“The council tax discount is effectively a tax break for people with second homes which often lie empty for large parts of the year. Enabling councils to respond to local housing pressures and charge the full rate of council tax, or higher, would mean they could raise vital revenue that could be used to deliver affordable housing for local people.”

Click here to download Shelter’s ‘Taking Stock’ report (PDF)

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13:58 PM, 7th April 2011, About 13 years ago

Badly thought out or sour grapes? Putting the council tax to the full amount would mean that a lot of second homes would come back onto the market as the owners could not afford to keep them. Equally a rise in landlords' costs would result in a rise in rental costs. How, exactly would either of these outcomes help the most vulnerable people seeking housing? So far as helping the government improve the provision of housing stock I think it's fairly clear that successive governments see this as an issue to be resolved through the private sector.
Where is the Shelter campaign insisting the government offer more support to Landlords trying to run HMO's? Where is the Shelter campaign ensuring Landlords continue to receive direct payments rather than risk them switching to only professional tenants to avoid loss of rental?
Perhaps some of the Landlords' Associations might offer to meet with Shelter and outline all the ways they could work together more effectively?!
If the only tool you have is a hammer, then you tend to see every problem as a nail. Shelter seem to be beating the hell out of Landlords' when a different approach might be far more beneficial to their target groups.
And don't even get me started on the folly of desirable area housing prices excluding locals. That's a whole other hobby horse!

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