In a bold decision to either bring in more revenue to the council coffers or to help with the housing shortage in Liverpool, the council has abolished any exemption that was available to landlords of properties in the Liverpool City Borough.
Prior to April 2013, councils gave up to 6 months exemption for vacant properties but then reduced this down to 2 months exemption from April 2013. At the time, this was a bold move and resulted in some landlords having to pay council tax (especially if a tenant had resided in two properties and started claiming part of the exemption on the property they were due to vacate)
In comparison to other boroughs around Liverpool, Wirral Council also mirrors Liverpools rules but Sefton & Knowsley Councils offer 1 months exemption but then revert to a 100% charge.
Now with this change in the rules, this means that investors have to be even more fearful of void periods as this will not only result in loss of rental income, it will also cost them extra to cover the council tax for the empty property.
I’m always conscious of paying any council tax on my empty properties and I have always been willing to offer rent free periods to my tenants (once found) to help them move in to the property earlier than they would have anticipated. The benefit of this was that the tenants are committed to the property earlier with less chance of changing their mind and not moving in, the property will be more secure with occupiers in the property than without, and also the property is not left vacant and therefore there is no worry of your building insurance becoming void (as they often have clauses stating if it is unoccupied for a certain period, they will not pay out on any claims). Now with this additional reason of mitigating the loses of council tax against income, I will be advising all landlords to follow my advice.
Another option that I will also be following, is to do any repairs, modernisation or decoration whilst a tenant is living in a property as the benefits of this would be that a tenant would be very happy to see a landlord investing in their home (your investment) as well as not losing any valuable time whilst the property is empty to carry out the works that may be needed in the near future. I own a property that is in desperate need of a kitchen and I’ll be getting quotes to get this changed whilst my tenant is in the property paying rent and council tax!
Another point to mention regarding the council tax, is that if the property is vacant for longer than 2 years, then the council will implement an empty property premium that will result in council tax charges increasing by 50%.
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