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Empty properties to be hit with higher tax rates in Taunton Deane
Some discounts will be scrapped and houses unoccupied for a long time will be charged 50% more by Taunton Deane Council than homes where people are living.
Changes will affect properties needing structural repair, unoccupied and unfurnished properties, second homes and long-term empty properties.
The Deane’s share of the council tax bill for Band D homes in the district has been frozen at £135.19 for the year from April, so owners of average-sized empty properties could pay an extra £67.60.
A spokesman for Somerset County Council, which is also freezing council tax, said it is not introducing the extra charges – Band D owners pay £1,027.30.
Taunton Deane Council has announced that: n Homes needing structural work or major repairs to become habitable will be exempt from council tax for 12 months; they will be charged full council tax for the next year; after that, if they remain empty, the owner will be charged council tax at the rate of 150%.
n Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties will not attract council tax for three months, after which the full rate is payable.
n The 10% discount on second homes is being scrapped – owners will pay the full rate.
n Homes that have been empty for two years will attract a 150% tax rate.
A Deane House spokeswoman said less than 100 properties would be affected, generating around £24,000 a year.
She added: “There is a demand for housing – particularly affordable housing – in Taunton Deane.
“Help and advice is available from the council’s empty property officer for owners who would like to bring a home back into use.
“All those likely to be affected by the new premium are being written to this month, before they receive their bill.
“They will be given contact details for the empty property officer and signposted to other advice available.”
l West Somerset Council is also introducing a 50% council tax premium after two years on empty and unfurnished properties; it is scrapping a 10% discount on second homes; the 100% discount for vacant dwellings will be in force for a maximum of a month; a 100% discount for uninhabitable properties will last for up to a year.