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The “help local councils bring empty houses back into use” Bill

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This Bill will give effect to a commitment made in the Chancellor’s 2017 Autumn Budget which is to give local authorities the ability to charge a council tax premium of up to 100% on long-term empty dwellings (houses or flats that have been unoccupied for two years or more).

It will also clear up a contention about how business rates are calculated for businesses that occupy more than one office or space within a single building.


Whilst the number of homes empty for 6 months or longer is lower than in 2004, Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:

It is simply wrong that, while there are 200,000 long-term empty properties across the country, thousands of families are desperate for a secure place to call home. This new power will equip councils with the tools they need to encourage owners of long-term empty properties to bring them back into use – and at the same time tackle the harmful effect they have on communities through squatting, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.


This Bill was introduced by Sajiv Javid MP at the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Other Arguments

The government has published guidance that makes clear that the premium should not be used to penalise owners of homes that are genuinely on the market for rent or sale. There are exemptions in place for homes that are empty due to the occupant living in armed forces accommodation for job-related purposes, or to annexes being used as part of a main property. Also, the Council Tax system provides statutory exemptions for properties left empty for a specific purpose – for example, when a person goes into care.

How to get involved

You can contact your MP

If I don’t act, will it go through?

This is a Government Bill so is likely to go through.