Landlords in Cornwall could see end to council tax discount

Landlords could lose a council tax discount on empty properties under plans which have been strongly backed by councillors.

Cornwall Council currently provides a 100% discount for one month for properties from the date they become empty.

However the authority is now considering scrapping the discount which it says could help generate an extra £1.3million to £1.6m a year for council coffers.

The discount is a discretionary reduction for landlords and was introduced after the Government scrapped a statutory requirement for councils to provide six months discount in 2012.

A meeting of the council’s customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee agreed to recommend to the Cabinet that it consider ending the discount.

Mark Read, service director for customer and business operations, told councillors that around 16,000 to 22,000 discounts a year were awarded over the last three years.

He added that around 800 of those were for social housing providers, including the council-owned Cornwall Housing.

Mr Read said that removing the discount would also make it easier for the council in terms of administration for council tax.

He added: “There would be an impact, that would primarily be for landlords.”

Some councillors raised concerns that if the discount was removed it would take away an incentive for landlords to carry out improvements or repairs to properties between tenancies.

However Mr Read said that there were other discount schemes available, including one which allowed landlords to carry out major repairs to properties and provided a 50% discount for up to 12 months.

There are also a number of other exemptions for council tax to cover other situations such as when the owner of a property dies.

Committee chair John Keeling compared the discount to the previous discount which had been provided for second home owners.

He recalled that when the council was allowed to remove that discount it was unanimously supported by councillors – once those who owned a second home had left the chamber.

“Personally I don’t see why we provide any discount. The current exemptions do cover all the possible reasons which might be needed to help landlords.”

The committee voted unanimously to recommend to the Cabinet members that the discount be removed so that all properties will have to pay full council tax once they are empty.

Falmouth Packet | Truro