Camden calls for higher Council Tax on 'ghost home' empty properties

Camden Council has renewed its calls for higher Council Tax on privately owned unoccupied properties London wide.

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden Council Cabinet member for Finance, Technology & Growth said:

“To discourage these ghost homes, we have repeatedly proposed that the Government let us increase the Council Tax we are allowed to charge on furnished properties left empty. Increasing charges 50% had an effect, but town halls need stronger tools.

“This is an unacceptable situation in which Camden and other local authorities in the capital find themselves. Local people should be deciding approaches to this but at the moment empty furnished homes left vacant are effectively protected by Whitehall rules."

In 2013, at the earliest possible opportunity using the powers available, the Council increased the rate of Council Tax on these properties to 150% and ended historic perks for all second homes in the borough. This helped reduce the number of homes left empty for two years from 248, prior to its introduction, to 157 in 2017 (a 37% reduction).

Councillor Blackwell continued: “Frustratingly, despite the very positive contribution that these measures achieved, the Government rejected our proposals to build on this success and introduce a 200% rate which was estimated would bring another 190 homes back into use, thus increasing the stock available for letting where demand exceed supply.”

Neither the two-year period a home has to be empty prior to charging the premium rate be decreased, nor the 50% premium itself be increased under the current regulations. The Council lobbied for a shorter empty period and higher charge from the outset and continues to lobby Government for greater powers in this area. In its recent response to the consultation on ‘Self-sufficient local government: 100% business rates retention’, the Council set out its view that greater powers over Council Tax charges for empty homes would further strengthen local accountability.