Council tax to double for second homes in Bristol

Proposed by the City Council, tax is set to double on second homes in Bristol under plans in the local authorities budget.

After the government announced the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which aims to encourage empty properties to be brought back into use for the local community, Bristol City Council proposed to raise council tax on second homes and increase bills for properties that have left empty for a year.

aerial view of houses

The government bill is currently going through Parliament and if approved, is expected to come into force from April 2024.

Currently, if homes are left unoccupied for two years in Bristol, bills are doubled. However, this will be reduced to one year if the proposals receive the go ahead at a council meeting scheduled for February.

The new law, proposed by the government, would give local authorities the power to add premiums of up to 100% on council tax for homes that are mostly furnished but are not claimed to be an owners main place of habitation. If these measures are passed, anyone affected would receive a full years notice.

The report has also indicated Bristol had around 1,500 properties left empty for between one and two years and around 300 over two years, which are already subject to a premium.

The number of second homes is not currently monitored as they already incur normal council tax bills, but estimates suggest there are roughly 2,500, the report said.

The report states: ‘The introduction of a premium for second homes might encourage council tax payers to explore whether their property could be transferred to business rates, and thereby benefit from small business rate relief as a way of avoiding the higher charge.

‘From April 2023, the Valuation Office Agency will only rate domestic properties for business rates if they are available for short term lets for at least 140 days in total over the current and previous tax years and have actually been let for short periods totalling 70 days in the last 12 months. 

‘This should ensure that any properties transferring from council tax to business rates relate to genuine circumstances where the property is being utilised for business purposes in accordance with legislation.

‘Adopting council tax premiums on empty properties is one way of incentivising property owners to bring those properties back into use at the earliest opportunity.’

However, doubling council tax is not just occurring on second homes in Bristol. Council’s in York and North Yorkshire have also adopted the idea amid plans to create more housing options and avoid huge funding decreases within their local authority. 

Photo by Louis Reed


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