Alexander highlights rating of empty homes issue

THE issue of empty homes and their rateable value was highlighted by a councillor at last Tuesday night’s Policy and Development meeting.

Attending the meeting was Chief Executive of Land and Property Services, John Wilkinson.

Mr Wilkinson gave councillors an overview of the rating system, and explained how Council officers work alongside staff from Land and Property Services to see how they can maximize Council’s income through rates.

In a question and answer session after the presentation, Independent councillor Christine Alexander highlighted the issue of empty homes.

She said: “ A property developer buys a property at the high of the property boom, then realises it is rateable under the new scheme, they then take the roof off so that they don’t have to pay rates. How do Land and Property Services deal with this?

Mr Wilkinson told councillor Alexander that Land and Property Services work to a ‘rating hypothesis’.

He said: “If we go to a property and there are minor repairs needing done, under the rating hypothesis we would assume that these repairs will be carried out. It becomes more difficult if the roof has been removed. The disrepair is more serious, so we then think about taking it out of the rating system.

“The difficulty is each case is different. Valuers have been dealing with this in light of the rating of empty homes scheme.”

Councillor Alexander added: “ It is unfortunate for this area that the market is no longer buoyant.

“Unfortunately the DoE has been spending money in an attempt to bring these houses into a better state.”