Homeowners that leave homes standing empty in Aldershot and Farnborough for more than two years will now have to pay double the amount of council tax to Rushmoor Borough Council from 1 April 2019.

Previously, homeowners of empty properties were asked to pay an additional 50% of the usual council tax bill, an extra £850 for a band D property.

Members of the Full Council agreed the increase on Thursday 21 February.

The change has come about following the Government’s introduction of the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018.

Councillor Gareth Lyon, Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: “We don’t want to see homes standing empty, particularly when there is a shortage of family homes in Rushmoor.”

Councillor Lyon added: “The intention of the change is to encourage owners of long-term empty properties to bring them back into use more quickly. We hate to see empty properties becoming an environmental nuisance or a target for anti-social behaviour.”

From 1 April 2020, homeowners who leave properties empty for five years or more will have to pay three times the amount of council tax, and from 1 April 2021, this will increase to four times the amount for properties left empty for more than ten years.

There are currently 109 long-term empty properties in Rushmoor, of which 24 have been empty for between two and five years; 15 for between five and ten years and 13 have been empty for more than ten years. A further 57 are part of the North Town regeneration scheme and are due to be demolished.

The property that has been empty for the longest, according to council tax records, has been empty for at least 26 years.

For further information please contact the communications team at Rushmoor Borough Council on 01252 398 744 or email communications@rushmoor.gov.uk