Empty property premiums of up to 300% could focus minds on auctions

An increasing number of West Midlands local authorities charging Council Tax “empty property premiums” of up to 300% could focus minds on quick sales by auction, Bond Wolfe Auctions has predicted.
Gurpreet Bassi, chief executive of Bond Wolfe Auctions, was speaking after Birmingham, Walsall and Solihull councils all started to take advantage of new laws which will enable them to increase the premiums.

Councils can already charge up to 50% Council Tax premiums on empty properties, but this increases to 100% from April, with 200% premiums for those empty for more than five years 12 months later, and 300% for those empty for more than a decade from April 2021.

The potential premiums will be considered by Birmingham City Council this week, while Walsall Council has already decided to apply the premiums and Solihull Council is drawing up plans in the next few weeks.

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said: “Empty properties attract all sorts of problems including vandalism, squatters, drug dealers – you name it, we get it. This new empty property premium is for people who blatantly leave properties empty. We are not going to stand for it anymore.”

Mr Bassi said: “There are thousands of empty homes across the Midlands which need to be refurbished into a rentable condition or sold to investors for development.
“The Council Tax premiums that can be applied from April will focus people’s minds if they have an unoccupied property, as the current rate will immediately double and in some cases – when this encourages landlords to sell – they might consider auctions as the quickest route to sale.

“For those considering this, it should be understood that an auction sale isn’t the last resort, but is often the best way to achieve market value with the comfort of speed and security.”

Mr Bassi explained that there were often several barriers stopping people from selling empty properties, sometimes emotional or factual, but that they could be overcome.

He said: “When it’s a death, divorce, mental or physical health that’s created an empty home, a family through no fault of their own might eventually face new tax premiums on top of what are already extra costs – such as expensive care home fees, probate and funeral costs, or perhaps maintenance payments.

“This can be a really stressful time for potential vendors, and this is when the team at Bond Wolfe Auctions with over 200 years combined experience can help by guiding someone through the sale of a property which is unoccupied, which may be for a variety of reasons.

“For example, we can explain that with an auction the property doesn’t need to be empty of its contents. And it can be sold as seen, regardless of its condition. We can also help with missing deeds or if the property is unregistered.”

Bond Wolfe Auctions still has space at its opening auction of 2019 on Wednesday 13 March at Villa Park for anyone who wants to beat the new Council Tax premiums.

Mr Bassi added: “Our first auction is attracting a lot of attention and it will be ideally timed for anyone wanting a quick sale of an empty property.”

To view a selection of the properties already lined up for Wednesday 13 March, go to https://www.bondwolfeauctions.com/properties/ – or to offer your property please call 0121 312 1212.