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Extra council tax charges approved for second and empty homes in Cannock Chase

Owners of empty or second homes in Cannock Chase are set to pay more council tax for their properties after plans to increase charges were approved.

Cannock Chase District Council

From April 2025 a 100% premium will be added onto the council tax bill for homes that are “substantially furnished” but not used as a person’s main residence.

From next month homes that have remained unoccupied and “substantially unfurnished” for more than 12 months will also have a 100% premium added to their council tax. At the same time a 12 month exemption will be removed for properties which are unoccupied, substantially unfurnished, uninhabitable and in need of or undergoing major repair or structural alteration.

The changes, which were unanimously approved at a full meeting of Cannock Chase Council on Wednesday (March 6), are aimed at bringing empty properties back into use sooner to meet demand for housing in the district. They follow a change in legislation allowing premium charges to be applied to second homes and empty properties.

Councillor Jacquie Prestwood, Resources and Transformation Portfolio Leader, said at Wednesday’s meeting: “Empty properties often cause problems for neighbouring properties and we get complaints from residents living nearby. There is a general shortage of affordable homes.

“Most of the money raised from council tax charges is paid to Staffordshire County Council, police and fire services. Only around 12% is received by this council, so this is about the effect on housing supply more than revenue raising.

“The revenue raised will help fund services provided. The council continues to work to address issues and encourage owners to put their properties to good use.”

A report to a cabinet meeting last month revealed that the changes were set to affect 129 second homes in the district, as well as 128 properties that have been unoccupied for between 12 and 24 months. It added: “It is expected that the introduction of an empty property levy after 12 months rather than 24 months will encourage earlier engagement from owners and in many cases expedite the occupation of their properties.

“Similarly the imposition of a Second Home Premium will encourage some homes to be put to better use and will afford owners of the properties a choice as to whether to pay the premium or bring the dwelling into use. This premium will be introduced from 2025, giving owners time to deal with their properties.

“There is significant strong demand for housing from both buyers and renters in Cannock Chase. This is despite high mortgage rates and challenges resulting from a high cost of living.

“The Housing Options team are facing significant levels of demand for suitable accommodation for those approaching the service. As such empty or poorly utilised properties are a wasted resource that could be used to house families in the district.

“Compared to regional and national levels of long-term empty homes, Cannock Chase is relatively fortunate in having fewer such properties. That said, every empty home is a wasted resource that could be used for residents in the district who are struggling to access the housing market, to either rent or own a home.

“The use of ‘second homes’ varies considerably and the council routinely receives complaints from neighbours regarding unkempt properties that are recorded as second homes due to the fact they are furnished, but in reality are as problematic as if recorded as empty. Any agreed changes will be supported with action by both council tax and housing staff to help affected owners make informed choices about the future use of their asset, whether that is to pay any additional premium or market for sale or rent.”