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Second-homeowners will have to pay a council tax premium in the High Peak to help raise £120K

High Peak Borough Council is set to bring in the maximum council tax premium for owners of second homes and owners of empty properties which could yield an annual income of over £120,000 for the authority in its bid to ensure more properties are occupied.

The local authority agreed a budget plan for the 2024-25 financial year with its Medium-Term Financial Plan up to 2027-28, discussing its council tax, housing rent increases and Treasury plans at a Full Council meeting on February 21, at The Arts Centre, at The Pavilion Gardens, in Buxton.

Councillors who expressed concerns about too many vacant properties during a national housing shortage were happy to approve additional plans to implement a 100 per cent premium for properties that have been empty and unfurnished for over a year from the beginning of the financial year on April 1, 2024.

In addition, they also agreed as part of the same plans to implement the maximum council tax premium of 100 per cent for owners of second homes from April 1, 2025, to allow for 12 months’ notice.

A council officer stated: “Empty homes are a wasted resource at a time when there is increasing pressure to address housing and homelessness need, and by implementing premiums (this) can help to bring properties back into use.

“They can also create problems for neighbours and the wider community such as disputes, blight, property deterioration and discourage inward investment.

“Making the best use of existing stock and bringing empty homes back into use is fundamental to meeting housing need.”

The officer added: “The government also encourages billing authorities to adopt council tax premiums on empty properties to incentivise property owners to bring their properties back into use.”

It has also been argued that second homes can add to house price inflation and put local people at a disadvantage when existing homes come on the market.

The government recently introduced the new powers for local authorities to reduce the period for which a premium can be applied to an empty property from two years to one, and to also allow authorities to apply a premium of up to 100 per cent on second homes.

High Peak Borough Council stated there are 365 properties that would attract the empty property premium from April 1, 2024, in the borough, potentially generating an income of £536,865 to be shared among the key precept-charging bodies with the council expected to retain approximately £61,471.

Also in High Peak, there are 329 properties that are used as second homes or holiday lets, according to the council, and if the 100 per cent premium was applied to these from April 1, 2025, this would generate an annual income of around £577,340 for the key precept-charging bodies, with the council expected to retain about £66,105.

The government, together with local authorities, have seen a rise in the number of empty homes along with a growth in second homes, according to the council.

Under the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill,  a property cannot be subject to both second home and empty home premiums, so the empty homes premium would cease to apply to a property which became subject to a second home premium.

In addition, an empty homes premium cannot be imposed on properties that are maintained as second homes for regular use by their owners.

High Peak Borough Council explained there will be exceptions where neither premium can be imposed.

These include; Properties undergoing probate; Properties that are being actively marketed for sale or rent; Empty properties undergoing major repairs over six months; Annexes forming part of, or being treated as, part of the main dwelling; Job related dwellings; Occupied caravan pitches and houseboat moorings; And seasonal homes where permanent occupation is prohibited or where the property has been specified for use as holiday accommodation.

The council also agreed to set its share of the council tax rate increase at 2.99 per cent and to increase its housing rent by 7.7 per cent for the 2024-25 financial year, after the budget plans were presented by High Peak’s Executive Councillor for Corporate Services and Finance Alan Barrow.

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