Bromsgrove Adopts Lib Dem Plan to Tackle Empty Homes
Next Week Bromsgrove District Council is expected to approve a new plan to use the council tax system to tackle empty homes after a forward-looking motion submitted by the Liberal Democrats.
According to the most recent figures published in 2021 there are now 2,639 households on the Council's waiting list for a new home in Bromsgrove. Yet at the last count there were also 462 homes in the district sat completely empty, instead of going to a family in need. After discovering this shocking waste of housing, the Liberal Democrats brought forward a motion in October 2020 calling for an 'Empty Homes Premium' to be adopted in Bromsgrove. This means using the Council Tax system to encourage owners of empty homes to bring them back in to use or sell them to somebody else who can.
Following the motion, council officers undertook detailed analysis and produced a full business case. If, as expected, the motion is approved at the full council meeting on Wednesday 26 January, the Empty Homes Premium will be implemented from 1 April.
The new policy will mean that anyone who owns a home that has been empty for more than two years without a valid reason will pay double the usual rate of council tax. This rises to triple the usual rate for properties empty for more than five years and four times the usual rate for properties empty for more than ten years. The policy also removes a perverse incentive where owners of empty homes were previously given discounts on council tax for keeping them empty.
There are already a number of exemptions from council tax for property owners who have a valid reason for keeping the property empty, such as the property going through probate or because the occupier is living in a care home. The new charges will only affect those who wilfully keep a home empty over a number of years for no good reason.
Bromsgrove Lib Dem Leader Rob Hunter said "I am absolutely delighted the Conservatives are now backing our plan to finally tackle the growing problem of empty homes in our district. It cannot be right that hundreds of homes sit empty in our community whilst thousands of Bromsgrove families and individuals are stuck on the housing waiting list because they are priced out of the market."
County Councillor for Bromsgrove Central Josh Robinson added: "As someone who has only recently managed to get on the property ladder myself this senseless waste of homes makes me really angry. I'm so pleased that Lib Dem proposals such as the Empty Homes Premium and harsher fines for landlords who don't comply with electrical safety legislation mean we are finally creating a fairer housing market here in Bromsgrove."