9:56 AM, 26th September 2011, About 12 years ago 1
Property investors who let homes stand empty for two years could pay more tax under plans to bring more homes into use.
Thousands of homes are empty across the country awaiting repair or development, often tied up in planning rows.
Now the government is suggesting the owners should pay extra council tax to encourage them to either sell or take in tenants.
The aim of the proposal is to ease waiting lists for families and the homeless in areas where councils and housing associations do not have enough properties.
The plan is to add an extra levy to council tax of up to 50 per cent, but councils can opt for imposing the levy and even how much to charge. The government hopes the new tax would bring in around £50 million extra cash a year for councils.
Local Government Minister Andrew Stunell announced the move as part of the government’s struggle to make extra housing available. He also wants councils to sell derelict homes at cheap prices to buyers who promise to refurbish them.
The minister claimed the scheme – called homesteading – would help families buy their own home, improve empty properties and regenerate run-down areas.
Mr Stunell said he would work with councils to identify areas where it could be introduced in an attempt to “rejuvenate” communities.
More than eight out of ten young adults aged up to 24 want to own their own home by 30 according to the Building Society Association, and the new policy could be the answer for first time buyers.
The quarterly consumer survey shows that 94 per cent prospective first time buyers say that they would ideally have bought by the time they are 35, while 75 per cent would like to own a home in their 20s.