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Empty homes across Cardiff billed combined £2.9m

Cardiff Council increased council tax premiums on empty homes in the city and has so far billed £2.9m (Pic: Pixabay)

MILLIONS of pounds worth of council tax charges have been billed to owners of empty homes in Cardiff since new measures were brought to help bring more properties back into use.

Cardiff Council decided to increase the amount it would charge in council tax premiums for long term empty properties in March, 2024.

Since then, properties unoccupied for more than a year face a 200% premium, properties unoccupied for more than two years face 300% premiums and those empty for more than three years face a 400% premium.

The council said it had billed a total of £2.9m for properties in the premium charge category since April, but it added that this was expected to reduce as not all properties would remain in the premium category for this year’s billing period.

A council spokesperson said: “The council first introduced a council tax premium rate (50%) in 2019 to encourage individuals to bring long term empty properties back into occupation.

“The premium increased to 100% last year.

“To help tackle the housing emergency in Cardiff where there is a lack of good quality, affordable homes, further increases were introduced earlier this year.”

Cardiff, like other cities across the UK, faces a serious housing crisis with a significant number of people on the council housing waiting list.

Figures published recently by the local authority show there are currently 1,028 single people in temporary and emergency accommodation, 122 families living in hotels and 595 families in standard temporary provision.

A decision was made to increase the council tax premium on long term empty properties last year partly because it was believed the premium charged in 2023 was not enough to encourage people to bring homes back into use.

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Cardiff Council figures published in March show the number of long-term empty properties charged a council tax premium only reduced from 882 at the beginning of April, 2023, to 808 on January 16, 2024.

The same figures also showed that more than half of these properties (406) had been empty for more than two years and 252 of them had been empty for more than 3 years.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson added: “The number of properties being charged the premium can change on a daily basis as properties are sold and individuals move, but we are already encouraged by the progress being made to bring homes back into use.

“In March this year, 872 long term empty properties were charged a premium rate, while this figure had decreased to 853 at the end of May.

“We expect the number of properties being charged premium rates to continue to reduce over time.

“The total value billed since April for properties in the premium charge category is £2.9 million but we do expect this figure to reduce, as not all of these properties will remain in the premium category for this year’s billing period until March 31, 2025.”

As well as providing homes for families, the scheme is aimed at tackling the issues that empty properties can sometimes attract.

When the premium uplift was approved this year, the council’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Chris Weaver, said the longer properties remained out of use, the more they “become a blight on our communities”, adding that they could eventually act as the focus of fly-tipping, vandalism and other criminal activity.

Exemptions do apply to some property owners, for example if the property is substantially unfurnished.

The council’s website states that you could be exempt from council tax charges for up to six months if this applies, but when this period ends owners will be responsible for paying the full amount.

To be classed as substantially unfur​​nished, a property cannot have any other furnishings apart from carpets, curtains and fixtures.

If you purchase a property that is already unoccupied and substantially unfurnished you can only claim the remaining part of the 6 month exemption.

For example, if the property has already been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for 3 months, you can only claim an exemption for up to 3 months.

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