Anger at new tax rules for vacant properties
Landlords have expressed anger over plans by Harborough District Council to change the tax rules on vacant properties.
Under the current rules, properties which have been vacated can remain empty for up to six months before the landlord is made to pay council tax.
But under new rules set to be introduced by the council on April 1, landlords will be given only one month’s grace.
Jill Griffiths, partner for residential lettings at Andrew Granger estate agents, said she has been bombarded with objections to the council’s plans since telling her clients about it.
She said: “While I appreciate that councils are under pressure to find ways of increasing their income, this particular decision seems unfair and unreasonable.
“Landlords have taken on more and more expenses over recent years and the costs soon add up.
“Professional landlords will often use the time between lets to improve their properties which in turn provides significant employment for our local tradesmen
“It is in all of our interests to ensure that the void periods are reduced to a minimum but four weeks is a very short time if the landlord needs to carry out improvements in time for the incoming tenant.”
And landlord Jack Balderson said: “It is accepted that tax has to be paid.
“However, it shouldn’t be ignored by those that make these changes that getting the balance right is vitally important to attracting investment in the local housing market.”
The change is being made as part of a raft of reforms to the council tax scheme being introduced by the council in response to a 10 per cent reduction in the cash given to the authority by the Government to provide benefits.
Unemployed people and those on low incomes who were previously exempt from council tax will now have to pay at least 15 per cent.
And landlords with unoccupied property which is undergoing repairs will only get a 50 per cent discount for 12 months, instead of a full discount.
Mrs Griffiths urged the council to lengthen the grace period to two months, then charge only 75 per cent until the property is let.
She said: “There must be a way to avoid penalising landlords who are providing a service to the local community and providing employment for agents and tradesman.”
A spokesman for the council said: “We are getting less money from national government to fund the benefits we give out.
“This will help meet the funding gap and reduce the impact to the general taxpayer.
“It also enables us to provide a scheme which is affordable and sustainable for this district, while seeking to protect the most vulnerable.
“It was also agreed that the council tax increase would be frozen again.”
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Weather for Harborough
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 23 C
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