Worthing Borough Council wants to introduce the new measure to reduce the number of empty houses in the area.

The council wants to scrap council tax exemptions for empty homes in a bid to ease the city’s housing crisis.

Currently, unfurnished houses in Worthing are exempt from council tax for the first month they are unoccupied, before the full rate becomes payable in subsequent months.

Penalties are foreseen for houses left empty longer. Additional charges are imposed if the house is unoccupied for 2 years and more – and 4 times the annual council tax is due if the house is left empty for more than 10 years.

The council hopes removing the initial exemption could persuade landlords to move more quickly to find new tenants for their homes, increasing the number of places available to rent each month.

A consultation will be launched to see if residents support the plans.

Last month there were 764 unoccupied properties in Worthing, 38 of which benefited from a month’s tax holiday. There are currently over 1,500 people in Worthing on the waiting list for housing.

Cllr Emma Taylor, Worthing Cabinet Member for Citizen Services, said: ‘We have a real housing crisis in the borough as there is already a huge shortage of properties.

“But with landlords being exempt from paying council tax for a month, they may not feel pressured to welcome new people to their properties. We want to speed up the process so that we can fill these empty houses as quickly as possible. »

The Worthing Joint Strategy Committee has agreed to launch a consultation, full details of which will follow.

Under current rules, landlords can get a discount for rented properties when there’s a gap between a former tenant moving out and a new one moving in, if a property is sold and remains vacant, or if a new landlord doesn’t move out. immediately. in.

It is hoped that removing the discount will simplify the administrative process and clarify potential rental start and end dates.

Some nearby local authorities have already scrapped the 100% one month discount, including Adur District Council, Chichester District Council, Horsham District Council, Mid Sussex District Council and City Council of Brighton & Hove.

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