Swindon landlords dealt council tax blow

Published by Sarah Ashcroft

Landlords in Swindon have been given a warning that they will no longer be able to avoid making council tax payments when their properties are unoccupied.

Rules had previously allowed rental home owners to remain exempt from the bill for up to six months while they attempted to find a new tenant or carried out improvements to the building. But they will now be forced to cough up the cash to the local authority at all times, reports the Swindon Advertiser.

It could come as a huge financial blow to landlords in the area, as any months in which they do not have a tenant in place will see them face an extra bill, at a time when they are not receiving any income.

Swindon Council has taken the decision in a bid to get to grips with a host of government welfare cuts that have been hoisted upon it. The body is also keen to reduce the number of empty homes and believes that a financial disincentive to landlords who might otherwise be happy to continue with no tenants could be exactly what the market needs.

Councillor Mark Edwards, cabinet member for finance, said: "If you have got people with empty houses sitting there and doing nothing and you've got people crying out for houses, we have got to find a way to close that gap. I certainly think it will be the case that people will think twice about leaving a property unfurnished if it's going to cost money."

The local authority is due to receive £11 million a year from April in council tax support rather than the £13 million it currently calls upon in council tax benefit. It therefore needs to plug the £2 million gap in some way.

It might just force the hands of landlords when it comes to attracting new tenants, as some will be unable to afford to see their homes remain empty for a sustained period of time.ADNFCR-1645-ID-801548493-ADNFCR

Published on: February 28, 2013

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