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Homes that are left empty for long periods of time could be brought back into use by new powers for local councils.

The Government has introduced proposals that would allow local authorities in England to charge a premium of 50 percent council tax on properties that lie vacant for year.

Any property that has been empty for more than two years will have to pay the full rate of council tax plus a 50 percent surcharge as part of the reforms announced by the Ministry of Housing.

Making the housing market fairer

The reforms were debated in the House of Commons on April 23 and described by Housing Minister Dominic Raab as an attempt to introduce “fairness for the families, young people and many others who see properties lying empty while they struggle to find somewhere to live.”

He told MPs: “Doubling the council tax on empty dwellings is just part of a range of measures that we are taking to fix the housing market, but it is an important step.”

According to Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak, there are 200,000 vacant properties in England. Allowing councils to charge the full rate of council tax is designed to encourage property owners to put those homes back into use.

Incentivise property owners

Speaking in the Commons debate, Mr Raab said council tax discounts on empty homes applied until 2010 when around there were around 300,000 vacant properties in England.

He said: “Owners of long-term empty homes should be incentivised to bring them back into use, and that is why in 2013 we enabled councils to charge the full rate of council tax on empty properties.

“We have also put in place powers for local authorities to charge a council tax premium of up to 50 percent on homes that have been vacant for two years or more.”