Council Proposes Council Tax Doubling for Second Homes and Vacant Properties in Brighton and Hove

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Brighton and Hove City Council has taken a decisive step to address the housing supply crisis in the area by approving the doubling of council tax for second homes and properties left vacant for two years. The move, scheduled to take effect from April 2025, comes as a response to the powers granted under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023.

During a meeting held at Hove Town Hall on Thursday, senior members of the council, at the Strategy, Finance, and City Regeneration Committee gathering, agreed to implement this measure to tackle the impact of empty and second homes on the local housing supply. Council finance chief Nigel Manvell highlighted the goal of encouraging “behavioural change” among homeowners and landlords.

The initiative is expected to generate approximately £500,000 from 461 empty properties, subject to the newly imposed premium. Additionally, around 1,400 second homes are projected to contribute an estimated £1.6 million to the council’s funds. However, Labour councillor Gill Williams, chair of the Housing and New Homes Committee, presented higher figures for both categories, emphasising the urgency of addressing the dire living conditions faced by many residents.

Councillor Williams stated, “While we’re doing all we can, this won’t solve all the problems, but it will certainly go some way to entice people to bring these empty homes back to life and help thousands of people to have a decent home.”

The council’s Housing and New Homes Committee Chair expressed anticipation for the application of devolved powers to initiate a registration scheme for short-term holiday lets. Her research indicated the presence of over 4,000 such lets in the city, proposing that freeing up these accommodations could significantly contribute to resolving the housing crisis.

Green councillor Sue Shanks, representing West Hill and North Laine ward, raised concerns about complaints regarding short-term holiday lets in her constituency, particularly around Kensington Gardens. Councillor Shanks pointed out that these lets were not contributing to local facilities or waste services financially.

Labour councillor Tim Rowkins underscored the severity of the housing crisis in the city, describing it as “existential.” Reflecting on his personal experience, he shared that homes in his Hanover and Elm Grove ward had remained empty for extended periods, deploring the fact that these properties could house families and contribute to the city’s future.

Councillor Rowkins criticised the imbalance of power in the hands of landlords and letting agents, citing high rents and substantial deposits as factors driving away young professionals in their thirties and forties from Brighton and Hove.

Labour councillor Jacob Taylor, chair of the Children, Families, and Schools Committee, drew attention to the alarming rate of families presenting as homeless each week in Brighton. He emphasised the impact on the city’s demographic, with fewer children being raised in certain areas due to housing costs. Taylor regarded the approved policy as a small but vital measure towards reducing the number of empty homes.

The committee’s unanimous decision to impose the premium rate on council tax for empty homes and second homes from the commencement of the 2025-26 financial year underscores the council’s commitment to addressing the housing crisis and fostering a positive shift in the local property landscape. As the initiative takes effect, residents and stakeholders will be closely watching the outcomes and assessing the broader impact on the housing market in Brighton and Hove.

Lauren Redford
Lauren Redford
Journalist Lauren Redford is a seasoned business journalist who focuses on regional areas throughout the United Kingdom. With her expertise and dedication, Lauren brings insightful coverage of local communities and their economic landscapes. With a meticulous approach and a passion for storytelling, she uncovers stories that resonate with readers and offers a deeper understanding of the business world. Lauren's commitment to delivering accurate and engaging news makes her a valuable member of the News Write Ups team.

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