Propertymark says it welcomes measures in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that will mean swifter action to get the hundreds of thousands of England’s unused homes onto the market for rent or for sale.
In a letter to Michael Gove - the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - Propertymark is calling for action to bolster much-needed supply.
The draft Bill gives councils the power to double the Council Tax bills of owners of homes that are left empty for a year — currently they have to wait two years. They will also be allowed to charge the owners of second homes and others deemed to be ‘occupied periodically’ a 100 per cent premium.
Government figures suggest that there are 653,000 vacant dwellings in England with 237,300 of those are classed as long-term empty. This contrasts with last year’s rise in the overall stock of just 216,000 — well short of government’s targets of 300,000 additional homes every year by the mid-2020s.
Propertymark's most recent Housing Market Report shows an average of 34 house hunters registered at its member branches for every property they have listed.
Now the organisation’s head of policy and campaigns Timothy Douglas says: “There is a housing shortage so it's right that more is done to disincentivise people from simply doing nothing with their property, or not using it to its full potential.
"To see action on empty homes included in this flagship Bill is a welcome acknowledgement from the UK government that this issue is working its way up the agenda.
"Our member agents continue to see historically low numbers of homes coming onto the market for sale or rent in the face of rising demand, so when this Bill becomes law we hope councils do not hesitate to act."