Long-term empty properties and second homes in Rhondda Cynon Taf will be subject to a Council Tax premium – an additional amount of council tax to be paid on top of the normal council tax bill.
The discretion given to Councils to charge a premium is intended to be a tool to help Councils to:
- bring long-term empty homes back into use to provide safe, secure and affordable homes
- support Councils in increasing the supply of affordable housing and enhancing the sustainability of local communities
What does the term “long term empty” mean?
A long-term empty dwelling is defined as a dwelling which is both unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least 1 year.
The furnishing or occupation of a dwelling for 1 or more periods of 6 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.
Where a Council makes a determination to charge a premium on long term empty dwellings, it may specify different percentages for different dwellings based on the length of time for which they have been empty. This enables local Councils to take a stepped approach, with incremental increases applying over time.
Are there any exceptions to the premium?
There are some exceptions to the premium that may apply from 1 April 2023 listed below:
- Class 1 – dwellings being marketed for sale or where an offer to buy the dwelling has been accepted- this exception is time-limited for one year (see further details below)
- Class 2 – dwellings being marketed for let or where an offer to rent has been accepted- this exception is time-limited for one year (see further details below)
- Class 3 – annexes forming part of, or being treated as part of, the main dwelling
- Class 4 – dwellings which would be someone’s sole or main residence if they were not residing in armed forces accommodation
- Class 5 – occupied caravan pitches and boat moorings (second homes only)
- Class 6 – dwellings where by virtue of a planning condition, year-round or permanent occupation is prohibited or has been specified for use as holiday accommodation only or prevents occupancy as a person’s sole or main residence (second homes only)
- Class 7 – job-related dwellings (second homes only) – see further details below
Class 1: dwellings being marketed for sale
This exception applies to both the premium on long-term empty properties and second homes. It excepts dwellings that are being marketed for sale. It also covers dwellings where an offer to buy the dwelling has been accepted but the sale has not yet been completed.
To qualify for this exception a dwelling must be on the market for sale at a reasonable price for that dwelling. A liable owner must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a local authority that they are actively marketing their property for sale at a reasonable price, ie what it would reasonably be expected to fetch on the open market.
In considering an application for an exception, a Council may wish to consider a range of factors relating to the sale of dwellings, such as the following:
- how long properties in the area have been available for sale
- the average price and time on the market of similar properties in the local area
- whether unduly restrictive conditions, such as the price, are being placed on the dwelling to impede its sale
- any other reasonable factors
To determine whether a dwelling is genuinely on the market for sale a Council may wish to consider different types of evidence which could include the following:
- listing on advertised websites, for example estate agent websites, Rightmove and Zoopla, or evidence of other ways in which the property is being marketed
- a contract with an estate agent
- estate agent listings or sales particulars if privately marketed
- an Energy Performance Certificate (required when a property is built or sold)
The exception period runs for up to 1 year from the granting of the exception but can be extended should the property sale have been agreed but not completed beyond the 1 year anniversary of the exception period commencing. The exception would end on the date of the sale of the property. After an exception has ended, a dwelling being marketed for sale will not be eligible for a further exception period unless it has been sold.
Class 2: dwellings being marketed for let
This exception also applies to both the premium on long-term empty properties and second homes. It excepts dwellings that are being marketed for let. It also covers dwellings where an offer to rent has been accepted but the tenant is not yet entitled to occupy the property because the tenancy has not yet started.
To be eligible for this exception, a liable owner must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a Council that they are actively marketing the property for let at a reasonable price, ie the rent the property would reasonably be expected to fetch having regard to the rent raised on comparable dwellings.
In considering whether the exception applies, a Council may wish to consider a range of factors relating to the letting of dwellings, such as the following:
- how long properties in their area have been available for rent
- the average rent and time on the market for similar rental properties in the local area
- whether unduly restrictive conditions such as the rent is being placed on the property to impede its letting
- any other reasonable factors
For a Council to determine whether a liable owner is actively or genuinely marketing their property for let, a local authority may wish to consider different types of evidence which could include the following:
- a contract with a letting agency
- estate agent listings or letting agent brochures
- registration and licensing of a landlord and agent for a dwelling being marketed for let, via Rent Smart Wales
- housing lists of properties being offered for rent provided by Registered Social Landlords
- an Energy Performance Certificate (required when a property is built or let)
- a valid gas safety certificate required for homes being let
The exception period runs for up to 1 year from the granting of the exception. After the end of the exception period, a dwelling being marketed for let will not be eligible for a further exception period unless it has been subject to a tenancy that was granted for a term of 6 months or more.
Class 7: job-related dwellings
This exception applies only in relation to the second home premium and applies to dwellings occupied by a qualifying person. The criteria for a qualifying person are set out under Class 7 in Part 1.
In considering eligibility for this exception, a Council may request certain types of evidence, to prove that a liable person is required to live in a job-related dwelling. This could include the following:
- a contract of employment
- a council tax demand notice (to show liability in respect of another property if the main or second home is in the UK)
- tax returns or pay statements
- Denomination Letter (in respect of a Minister of Religion)
- Ministry of Defence letter or written contract (in respect of the Armed Forces)
If you believe you are eligible for an exception listed above please make an application for exception.
What if my property isn't eligible for an exception?
With effect from 1 April 2023, for long term empty properties, you will be subject to a 50% Council Tax Premium if your property has been empty for between 1 and 2 years and a 100% premium if it has been empty longer than 2 years.
From 1st April 2024 all second homes will be subject to a 100% council tax premium.
If you would like to work with the council in order to bring your property back into full-time use we can potentially assist you. You can find details of this help here - www.rctcbc.gov.uk/emptyproperties
I am an owner of an empty property. How will I be notified that I am liable to pay the premium and how much notice, if any, will I be given?
All owners of properties that will be subject to the long term empty premium were written to in January 2023 advising them that they will be subject to a premium from 1 April 2023. Properties that will subsequently fall into this category will receive a council tax bill showing the premium. If your property is likely to have been empty for a year or more by 1 April 2023 and you would like some help or advice please contact the Council. Further information will be included with your Council Tax Bill that will be issued in March 2023.
I am an owner of a second home. How will I be notified that I am liable to pay the premium and how much notice, if any, will I be given?
All owners of second homes that the council are aware of were written to in January 2023 advising them that a premium will be charged on their property effective from 1 April 2024. Any properties that are subsequently identified as second homes will also be written to advising them of the same. If you receive a letter and think your property should not be classed as a second home please contact us.
Council Report – Click here to read the Council report