Cabinet calls time on the tax relief for empty homes

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LANDLORDS in Tunbridge Wells might be forced to take a financial hit after plans to scrap council tax relief on empty properties were approved by the cabinet.

In a meeting which saw half of the six cabinet members present excluded from the vote, due to declaring a pecuniary interest, councillors gave the go ahead to eliminate the one month discount for vacant properties.

It comes after years of gradual reductions that have seen the amount of time landlords are able to claim a reduction in council tax fall from six months to one.

Currently landlords are entitled to claim a discount on empty and unfurnished homes while they seek another tenant or undertake redecorating. The average value of each discount is £62.50.

The council believes it will benefit to the sum of £33,400 if this is scrapped, representing its share of the precept on additional council tax revenue estimated to be worth £334,000. It is also hoped it will ensure tenants will be housed quicker.

Another scheme, that gives a 25 per cent relief on properties undergoing major works over the course of a year, is also facing the axe, saving the council £5,600.

Council documents acknowledge the changes will be unpopular with landlords, stating: “The main disadvantage in removing the one month discount would be for landlords where they are looking to re-decorate properties before putting a new tenant in.

“The landlord would immediately become liable to pay full Council Tax in between tenancies whereas currently they benefit from up to one month discount. However, other councils have found that where the one month empty discount has been removed, although there were initial complaints, this discretion has now been accepted.”

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