Lewisham’s Labour Council are introducing a new ‘empty homes’ premium to bring more homes in the borough back into use. The premium, unanimously voted through at Lewisham’s Full Council meeting on the 19th January, means council tax bills for owners of empty homes will be up to 4x higher than if the properties were used as accommodation.
It is estimated that there are currently over 235,000 long-term empty homes in the UK. As well as reducing the amount of affordable housing available, vacant properties rapidly fall into disrepair and are linked with anti-social behaviour and littering.
In addition to the current 100% premium for properties empty between two and five years and 200% premium for those that are empty over five years, there will now be a 300% premium for those that remain empty for over ten years – the maximum a council can legally introduce. If someone chooses to keep a property empty in Lewisham for over a decade, their council tax bill will be 400% higher – 100% of the regular council tax payment, plus the 300% premium.
Labour Councillor Amanda De Ryk, Cabinet Member for Finance, said:
“In the midst of Tory housing and cost of living crises, it is unacceptable that homes across the country lie empty. Lewisham Labour is determined to ensure homes in the borough are providing residents with accommodation, not left empty for mere property speculation.
Since 2018 we have already brought nearly 400 empty properties back into use. By introducing the ‘empty homes’ premium we will be able to bring even more homes back into use as accommodation, to the direct benefit of the people of Lewisham.”