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Buy to Let & Letting

Is Empty Property Council Tax The New Landlord Stealth Tax?

Psst. Did I tell you, I have a money tree in my garden?

did i tell u

 

I swear that’s what some people seem to think I said.

Especially local councils.

Their pretty, little envelopes dropping incessantly through my letterbox asking me for money is doing my friggin nut in.

I wouldn’t mind, but the bloody properties are empty – why the hell do you keep chasing me for council tax?

Oh, sorry I forgot, this is the new stealth tax designed to screw over all insanely rich, evil landlords.  Of course, once I get a DSS tenant in that property you’ll demand the same monies from them won’t you…?

No, I didn’t think so.

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As a property owner and a tax payer, I get to foot the bill twice.

It doesn’t matter one jot that the property is empty and that no services are being used whatsoever – you’ll charge me all the same for owning the property and contributing to your local services – NONE of which I am using.

But, of course, how silly of me to forget, I actually own the property in your neck of the woods and so regardless of whether I’m using the local services or not I have to pay my part.

Shame nobody thought to tell Amazon or Starbucks that we should all pay our fair share to contribute to this “better society”.

But, maybe you heard me whisper about the location of this money tree at the bottom of my garden?

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Of course, I can understand why local councils have introduced such a charge – I mean central government have cut their funding and so what better way to stuff their coffers than go after private landlords who have the audacity to own an additional property.  Little landlords don’t have the resources or the legal might of a big company of creative accountants to challenge any unfair regulations – so screw them.

Let’s go after the little people who can’t do much apart from complain and cry into their pint after a hard day’s work and feebly transfer pound after pound for fear of the red stream of ink and INCREASINGLY IRATE AND THREATENING LETTERS which will pour from your air-conditioned little cubicles.

I’d like to see how much you charge Amazon for their contribution to local services…oh sorry, I forgot, they’re not even based in the UK are they?  It must be me, Amazon’s whacking great f**king sweat factories must just be a mirage in my imagination.  But, that’s Milton Keynes for you.

But let’s not forget: We want to promote the UK as a nation of enterprise and encourage people to start their own businesses, look after their own pensions and be as independent as possible (especially from the state as they have no resources left for looking after any us).  However, if you do any of that self-sufficient, entrepreneurial lark in property, you’re a goner.

Being a landlord needs to come with a health warning.

Owning a second property to rent out means you may as well have admitted you’re going to open an execution camp down the road for all the vitriol and criticism you’ll attract.

Oh – and the empty property council tax bills…

14 comments
  1. chris

    Maybe I am wrong about this but Manchester council do not charge landlords for empty properties as long as the property is unfurnished. Again I’m not 100% but I believe that is the case.

    1. Sam

      Chris, you could be right – every council is different. My friend told me in Coventry they give you 100% relief if the property is furnished. Rules are all over the place!

    1. Sam

      Thanks. Most landlords want the properties let ASAP – but to suitable tenants, who sometimes just don’t make an appearance as quickly as you would like!

  2. rob

    GATESHEAD COUNCIL ARE GREAT THEYLL CHARGE ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY PERCENT ON UNOCCUPIED PROPERTY AFTER TWO YEARS_ SORRY FOR THE CAPITALS IM NOT SHOUTING MY CAPS LOCK IS STUCK!

  3. Jill

    I’m not particularly bothered in concept by having to pay some council tax on unoccupied property, probably because I come from a country where owners always pay property tax whether the place is tenanted or not, so I’m probably brainwashed. 🙂 But there have been some specific things that have inspired me to stamp my foot in indignation:

    1. I bought some property in Hull which was in bad condition and spent quite some time owning it with builders getting it ready to rent. That’s a money-losing situation anyway, but there is a policy in Hull that property left unoccupied for some period of time, I think two years, owes 150 percent of the normal council tax. Incredibly unfairly, this applies even if the current owner (me) has only owned it for four months unoccupied while works are going on. So because someone left it unoccupied for a couple of years before I bought it I was charged a ludicrously high rate.

    2. A different property had a couple of months vacant between tenants. Neither my agents nor I ever got a bill for council tax during that time. Instead the agents out of the blue received a summons to magistrates court with a fee of £80 tacked on. Note that I had had problems with that council before and had very carefully confirmed with them that they have my name and details, and my agents had informed the council that they manage the property. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for either the agents or me to get a proper bill. They certainly knew where to send the court summons. Incredibly unfair!

    1. Sam

      Jill, the situations you describe are exactly what incenses me the most! I agree, how ridiculous that you as the new owner (and the one improving the property) should get penalised by a bill of 150%! You are putting the property back into use and this behaviour should be rewarded and encouraged.

      Have you challenged the court summons bill? I have had several where a bill didn’t arrive, but then the summons did. On every occasion I have successfully fought this and won.

      Also, I never phone the council now as I do not trust their recording systems. I email them and send a copy to myself. This has helped me out of numerous situations where they claim I didn’t inform them – and yet I could then produce the email!

      Always where possible do this – same goes for utility companies who are also pretty heavy handed when it comes to threatening court action.

  4. Mark - Accountant

    More and more landlords are letting their property to charities as a scheme for empty property rates relief. Charities pay significantly lower empty property rates compared to other businesses. This is a very appealing option for Landlords who are burdened by their business rates and risk going out of business. However this is only suitable for commercial properties on busy, built up areas so not always an option for out of town warehouses.

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