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Architect's Call to Tax Empty Homes

While many wealthy people would defend their ownership of second, third and fourth homes, Lord Rogers of Riverside has called for a severe tax on empty homes. Among many accomplishments, Lord Rogers is responsible for the construction of Hyde Park One, perhaps the most exclusive apartments in London.

Divided Communities

Lord Rogers has spoke out against what he believes to be a view of housing "as if it were gold bullion", and simply being held as foreign investment rather than a primary residence.

He believes that a tax should be levied, because wealthy buyers are leaving homes vacant whilst more families are forced to move to a B&B. Large amounts of vacant properties also leave areas prone to vandalism, arson and antisocial behaviour.

The argument against empty homes is that they cause problems for local communities because house prices are driven up at a time when people are struggling to get on the property ladder, or even have a place to live at all. Local businesses also suffer because there are less residents in the area.

What Can The Council Do?

There is greater support for increasing council tax on empty homes, the coalition government has allowed councils to charge 150%. While local authorities are able to do this, they are struggling on other fronts to keep the housing issue manageable, through no fault of their own. Leeds City Council, for example charges the premium rate of council tax, 150%, for any property left vacant for over 2 years.

Councils are able to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to regain access to empty homes. However, there are various reasons why the council don't often use CPO's. Unfortunately, it can often prove costly.

Local Authorities can also utilise what is known as the Enforced Sales Procedure. A local authority can rely on S.103 of the Law of Property Act 1925 to force the sale of a property if there is a debt owed to the local authority as a result of them having to undertake work to ensure it is not a hazard to the surrounding area.

SM Commercial works alongside Grafton UK Ltd, to assist individuals in the disposal of empty properties bringing them back into occupation.

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Dated: 18/02/2014

Author: Greg Cox

Empty Homes Tax

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