This is a Council Tax levy question, particularly aimed at two-tier authorities, but I am happy to open it up to anyone that feels that they can provide a definitive answer.
We are a district local authority that has a policy in place to apply the levy charge automatically when a property hits the two-year empty mark. I am looking to vary the policy by adding in an element of discretion where owners are clearly engaging and actively working to bring their property back in to use. A colleague in Council Tax feels that to do so will leave us indebted to the other beneficiaries of our Council Tax. His logic is that we currently receive a set amount in the pound from our collections with the vast majority going to the County Council and to the police. If we then choose not to apply the levy, in lieu of owners completing their long-term empty properties, we would be expected to foot the bill for our partners lost income. I can see the logic were we to suspend existing levies but I’m struggling to see how this should be so if we simply delay applying the levy on properties that are about to hit the two-year mark.
What do members think and are there any examples out there of authorities adopting a flexible approach to their levy charge?
Empty Homes Manager North Norfolk District Council