EMPTY HOMES

DISTRIBUTION 2012

 



 
 

 

 

Chart 1 shows the number of dwellings liable for council tax for each valuation band in september 2012.

In September 2012 there were 23,178 thousand dwellings on council tax valuation lists. There were 802 thousand dwellings exempt from council tax and two thousand demolished dwellings. This left 22,374 thousand dwellings liable for council tax. These dwellings were predominantly in the lower valuation bands. Twenty four percent of homes were in band A, 20% in band B, 22% in band C and 15% in band D.  There were 81% of homes in the lowest four bands and 19% in the highest four bands. Band A contained nearly five and a half million homes whereas band H contained 127 thousand homes or 0.6% of the total number.

Long term empty homes were dwellings which were unoccupied and substantially unfurnished. At the discretion of local authorities they could be granted a discount of up to 50% of the usual rate of council tax.

However unoccupied and substantially unfurnished dwellings could also be granted exemption from council tax under exemption class C. The exemption could be given for up to six months and after the expiry of the exemption period the discount could be granted at the discretion of the local authority. During the exemption period the homes would be listed on council tax valuation lists but would not be liable for council tax. Therefore during the exemption period the properties were not classified as empty homes but they would be classified as empty homes if they were still empty after the expiry of the exemption period. They are then categorised as long term empty homes and at the discretion of the local authority they could receive a discount of between 0% and 50%. There were 93,000 long term empty homes entitled to a discount and 161,000 not entled to a discount, giving a total of 254 thousand long term empty homes.

In addition, a further exemption was available for certain empty homes. Council tax exemption class A was concerned with vacant dwellings requiring or undergoing “major repair work” to make them habitable or are undergoing “structural alteration”; or where the works were substantially completed less than six months before. This exemption could be granted for a period of up to twelve months and during this time the property would be completely exempt from council tax. When the property was no longer exempt from council tax then council tax could be payable on the dwelling. During the exemption period the home would be listed on valuation lists but would not be liable for council tax.

(With effect from April 1 2013 exemptions class A and C were abolished and replaced by discounts that could be granted at the discretion of local authorities. The discounts could range from 0% to 100%).

Therefore long term empty homes were those which were empty and no longer exempt from council tax.

Council tax statistics for September 2012 show that there were 254,000 long term empty dwellings in England, which represents 1.14% of the total properties liable for council tax. These long term empty homes were predominantly in the lower valuation bands, and in particular there was in an overrepresentation of empty homes in band A, which is the lowest band.  

Chart 2 shows how the number of long term empty homes was distributed between the eight council tax bands in September 2012. The long term empty homes were concentrated in the lower valuation bands.  Forty two percent of long term empty homes were in the lowest valuation band, 19% were in band B, 16% in band C and 10% in band D. Eighty seven percent were in the lowest four bands and 13% in the highest four. There were 107,000 long term empty homes in band A and under 3,000 in band H.

Chart 3 shows the number of long term empty homes in each council tax band expressed as a percentage of the total number of homes in that band liable for council tax. The distribution is U shaped with the percentages for the two extreme bands (A and H) higher than the percentages for the intermediate bands (B to G).

Chart 3 shows that 2.36% of band H homes were long term empties followed by band A of which 1.96% of homes were long term empties. The percentages for the intermediate bands ranged from 1.10% for band B to 0.70% for band E.

Properties in the highest and lowest bands had higher liklihoods of being long term empty than properties in the intermediate bands. The most expensive and least expensive homes have a higher liklihood of being long term empty than properties of intermediate value. The assumption that homes are deliberatly left empty for investment purposes does not explain this pattern of results. A possible explanation for long term empty homes in band H may be that the owners are not motivated to find occupants for them either because they are so wealthy that they don't need the revenue or because they are using them for profit. In this case the owners may be using the homes as investment vehicles. However the high percentage of empty properties in band A seems to require a different explanation. Band A homes are valued as the least expensive properties and it seems unlikly that they would be used for investment in preference to homes of higher value. It is possible that these properties are empty primarily because potential occupants are not attracted to them.

Although properties in Band H had the highest probability of being empty the number of long term empty properties in this band was quite small in comparison with the other bands. The overall pattern of results shows that the higher the valuation band the lower the number of empty homes it contained. For example there were only around 2,600 long term empty homes in band H but there were 107, 000 in band H. In other words there were over forty times as many long term empty homes in band A than in band H.

A high percentage of band H homes are empty but in terms of sheer numbers any additional tax on empty dwellings will hit low value properties the hardest especially band A which accounted for over 42% of long term empty homes and has a high percentage of its properties empty.

Chart 4 shows the percentage of dwellings and the percentage of long term empty dwellings in each band. Forty-two percent of long term empty properties were in the lowest valuation band, although only 24% of dwellings liable for council tax were in this bracket. The lowest three valuation bands combined include around 77% of long term empty homes. The top three bands however contained only 7% of long term empty homes, and only 1% of long term empty homes were in band H which is the highest band.

Stories in the media about empty homes often mention houses being used as investment vehicles instead of accommodation for people to live in. The assumption is that homes are deliberately left empty by their owners so that they can make a profit out of them. The Statistics however suggest that investment or property banking is not an important cause of empty homes. If investors were using houses just for profit they would concentrate on the higher end of the market rather low value band A properties. But the 2012 data shows that in the whole of England there were only 2,600 long term empty homes in band H, compared with 107,140 in band A.

The coalition government introduced reforms enabling councils in England to apply premiums of up to 150% of the usual rate of council tax on properties that had been empty for two years or more. Council tax statistics for September 2014 show that nearly half of the properties subject to a premium were in the lowest valuation band.

 



 

 


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Chart 1. The number of dwellings liable for council tax for each valuation band in September  2012.

chart 1 number of dwellings on council tax valuation list liable for council tax september 2012

 

Chart 2. The number of long term empty dwellings for each council tax band in September 2012

chart 2 long term empty homes by council tax band September 2012

 

Chart 3. The number of long term empty homes in each council tax band expressed as a percentage of the total number of homes in its band September 2012.

Chart 3. Percentage  of long term empty homes in each council tax band  September 2012

 

Chart 4. Percentage of homes and percentage of long term empty homes for each council tax band September 2012.