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Council Tax Premiums For Second And Empty Homes To Expand In Adur And Worthing

Monday, 12 February 2024 06:00

By Thomas Hanway, Local Democracy Reporter

Worthing Town Hall, taken by the LDRS

Members of Adur District and Worthing Borough Council cabinets unanimously supported extra council tax premiums on second or empty homes at their meetings on February 1 and 6 respectively.

This could see the 100 per cent ‘empty homes premium’ applied to substantially unfurnished unoccupied properties after they have been empty for a year, instead of two years, starting on April 1, 2024.

A 100 per cent ‘second homes premium’ could also be applied to unoccupied homes listed solely as second or vacation homes that are substantially furnished, starting April 1, 2025.

Both the second homes and empty homes premiums cannot be applied to the same property at the same time, and exemptions can be applied for if you are seeking probate or to market the property, or are a member of the armed forces.

Worthing cabinet member for housing and citizen services Emma Taylor-Beal (Lab, Heene) said this measure was designed to reduce housing demand in Worthing and increase the council’s tax revenue.

She said:

“The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 has given us the power locally to make certain changes to the levying of council tax premiums.

“Doing so would support our empty homes strategy designed to increase the availability of housing in Worthing and increase our revenue at a time when the pressure on our local government finances is greater than ever.”

Worthing opposition leader Kevin Jenkins (Con, Goring) said the new measures were a ‘sledgehammer to crack an egg’.

He said:

“There will always be homes that are in ‘transition’ – increasing premiums on houses where families are trying to secure probate on the home of a loved one who has died, to then bring it to the housing market is nothing more than an additional punitive financial penalty for them to bear.

“[Mrs Taylor-Beal’s] report focussed on the financial gain to the council and offered nothing in the way of support to these families. “

Adur cabinet member for communities and wellbeing Kevin Boram (Con, Buckingham) said Adur had ‘huge’ housing issues and the district needed ‘all the housing we can get’.

Adur opposition leader Jeremy Gardner (Lab, St Mary’s) said his party fully supported the premiums, adding they would, hopefully, persuade many owners of empty or second homes to ‘give them up’ to be lived in full time. 

Reports showed to the cabinets said there were 273 long-term empty homes and 174 second homes in the Adur district, and 392 long term empty homes and 486 second homes in the Worthing borough.

Currently, homes that have been empty for two to five years see a 100 per cent council tax premium, homes empty for five to ten years see a 200 per cent premium, and ten years plus see a 300 per cent premium.

The final decision on the premiums will be made by the two full councils at their next meetings, on February 20 for Worthing Borough Council and February 22 for Adur District Council.

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