Susan Elan Jones MP has urged Wrexham County Borough Council to charge extra Council Tax premiums on second homes and houses that are empty and not on the lettings market. The Clwyd South Labour MP also called on the Council to be much tougher in enforcing the law when properties and garden are left untidy.
Writing in response to a Council consultation on housing, Susan Elan Jones MP made the following points:
“(1) Empty properties: As we are all aware, properties that remain empty for any length of time are a menace; often an eyesore; and sometimes, a source of considerable distress to people who have the misfortune to live next-door or in the immediate vicinity to them. The problem is exacerbated in the case of semi-detached or terraced properties – here neighbours may find themselves with structural and dampness problems which can impinge on their property. There is also the additional problem of overgrown gardens which attract vermin etc.
Our area also has a shortage of housing, so there is no good public policy reason for supporting properties to remain empty. I believe it is in the interests of the local community that premiums be added to Council Tax for properties that remain empty for any length of time.
(2) Second homes – A second home is usually a dwelling purchased or acquired so that people may holiday in an area. I believe that Wrexham County Borough Council should follow the example of some other Welsh local authorities by adding a premium to Council Tax for dwellings which are used for this purposes.
My constituents are deeply concerned about the need for good-quality, affordable housing; and most would, I believe, support premiums to Council Tax charges in the instances listed above.
My constituents are also concerned that Wrexham County Borough Council should apply the full arm of the law (especially Section 215, Town and Country Planning Act, 1990) to clear up when properties and surrounding grounds are left in an untidy or dissolute state.
I welcome this consultation on premiums to Council Tax and very much hope that the next task of the Council in this area will be better enforcement of its Section 215 powers”.
An estimated 23,000 homes in Wales are empty or used as second homes. Changes to the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 mean councils have the ability to charge a premium on top of the existing council tax payments for second homes from the 2017-18 financial year. It is hoped it will help control house prices and bring empty properties back into use. The Welsh Local Government Association is supportive of Councils charging premiums, saying it meant second homes could make a “fair contribution” to the community.
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