Welcome for new empty homes tax
Councillor Stewart Golton (Rothwell), leader of the Leeds Lib Dem council group has welcomed government plans for a new tax on empty houses.
Andrew Stunell, local government minister, told delegates at Lib Dem party conference yesterday that councils will be allowed to charge an empty homes premium - an additional council tax payable on properties that have been left empty for two years or longer.
Leeds currently has around 7000 private sector properties that have been empty for more than six months.
Cllr Golton said the new powers would help the council tackle the shortage of affordable housing in Leeds.
"It is scandalous that there are 7000 private homes in Leeds that have been empty for six months or more so any help from the government to get this down is extremely welcome.
"The owners often leave these homes to fall into disrepair and they can be a real blight on our neighbourhoods.
"This new measure helps in two ways - firstly it imposes a financial penalty on owners of long term empty homes. Secondly it will provide funding for the rest of the work the council already does to get these homes back into use.
"The government has shown leadership on this issue. I hope that Leeds City Council will be making full use of these powers as soon as they come into force."