A briefing on the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill 2017-19Jump to full report >>
The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill 2017-19 was introduced into the House of Commons on 28 March 2018. Second Reading took place on 23 April 2018, Committee Stage on 1 May 2018, and Report Stage and Third Reading on 15 May 2018. The Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 16 May 2018 and is scheduled to have its Second Reading there on 4 June 2018.
The Bill was not amended during its passage through the House of Commons. The Bill and Explanatory Notes can be found on the Parliamentary website.
This is a Government Bill, which implements two policy commitments which were made in the November 2017 Budget.
1. Reversing the effects of the ‘staircase tax’
The ‘staircase tax’ is a colloquial term given to the effects of the case of Woolway vs Mazars, on which judgment was given in July 2015. This case affected the valuation of properties for business rates purposes. The effect was that properties that were contiguous, but where access from one to the other was through a communal area, were required to be treated as separate and could not be valued as a single property.
This issue was covered by an entry on the Commons Library’s Insights blog in November 2017. The Government issued a consultation, and a draft Bill, on 29 December 2017, with a response published on 3 April 2018.
The chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee corresponded with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the subject on 23 January, 19 February, 26 February, and 8 March 2018.
2. Increasing the maximum ‘empty homes premium’
The Bill was to have permitted a charge of up to 200% of normal council tax on properties that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for two years or more, instead of the current limit of 150%. A Lords amendment extended this to 300% on properties that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for five years or more (from 2020), and 400% on properties that have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for ten years or more (from 2021).
The Bill extends to England and Wales and applies to England only.