From 1st April 2017 the Council will have powers to charge additional council tax on ‘long term’ empty properties and ‘second homes’. These powers have been introduced by the Welsh Government in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and allow the Council to end any discounts that were previously in place for long term empty properties and apply a higher amount of council tax.
It should be noted that Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC has not made any decision as yet to introduce any additional council tax premiums for either long term empty properties or second homes and the existing policy for long term empty homes will remain in place until at least 1st April 2017 and for second homes the current policy will be in place until at least 1st April 2018.
Long Term Empty Homes
Under existing legislation a property is considered as long term empty if it has been continuously unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for 6 months or more. In Rhondda Cynon Taf 50% council tax is payable for these properties, and this has been the case since 1st April 1996.
Under the new rules a dwelling is ‘long term empty’ if it has been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least one year (i.e. 12 months).
In determining whether a dwelling has been empty for one year, no account is to be taken of any period before 1st April 2016. In addition, the furnishing or occupation of a dwelling for one or more periods of six weeks or less during the year will not affect its status as a long-term empty dwelling. In other words, a person cannot alter a dwelling’s status as a long-term empty dwelling by taking up residence or installing furniture for a short period.
If the Council determine to charge additional premiums on long term empty homes then it must publish a notice in a local newspaper to this effect within 21 days of that decision.
Second Homes/Holiday homes
Under existing policy these properties pay 100% council tax in Rhondda Cynon Taf and this has been the case since 1st April 1998.
Under Section 12B Local Government Finance Act 1992 a Billing Authority may also apply the higher amount to dwellings that are occupied periodically where certain conditions apply. Those conditions are that there is no resident of the dwelling and the dwelling is substantially furnished.
The Council must make a resolution on whether additional amounts will be charged on Second Homes 12 months in advance of the premium being charged i.e. for premiums that will be charged from 1st April 2017 the decision must be notified to taxpayers by 31st March 2016.