To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of homes in London that have been empty for six months or more.
As previously outlined to this House on 7 June 2023, the number of long-term empty homes remains substantially lower than when records began in 2004. As of May 2010, over 300,000 homes in England had been standing empty for longer than 6 months. As of October 2022, the number of long-term empty properties had fallen to 248,633.
The Government wants to encourage empty homes back into use and to empower local leaders to reinvest in their communities. Local authorities already have many powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Through the New Homes Bonus, they receive the same level of reward for bringing an empty home back into use as building a new one.
Council Tax billing authorities in England currently have the power to charge up to 100% extra council tax - on top of the standard bill - on properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for at least two years, up to 200% extra on properties that have been empty for at least five years, and up to 300% extra on properties that have been empty for at least 10 years.
The Levelling up and Regeneration bill will give councils the power to apply the 100% premium on properties left empty after a year, rather than the current two years. The premium will provide local leaders with additional flexibility to help address the impacts of empty homes and improve the sustainability of local services where they consider that appropriate.
Additionally, in certain circumstances, local authorities can exercise powers to take over the management of long-term empty homes to bring them back into use in the private rented sector. Local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) when a property has been empty for more than two years, subject to the production of evidence that the property has been causing a nuisance to the community and evidence of community support for their proposal.