Council tax exemption drop - Rental property owners left reeling after tax exemption period is dropped dramatically

Private landlords from across the area are backing a petition in the hope the district council will reconsider the council tax exemption period.
Private landlords from across the area are backing a petition in the hope the district council will reconsider the council tax exemption period.
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Rental property owners in Louth feel they are being ‘punished’ by the district council after the tax exemption period has gone from six months to just one.

This has resulted in a struggle for landlords to get their properties up to spec and have a new tenant moved in during the short four-week period.

Landlords are now joining together to bring forward a petition to present to the next full East Lindsey District Council meeting on December 10 to try to increase the exemption period.

Paul Briggs, who has a number of properties in Mablethorpe, began the petition.

“The new exemption period of one month has been reduced down from six months and I was told it was brought in by the district council in April this year, but not many people know about it yet until it affects them,” Paul explained.

“I feel like the council is punishing landlords. Just one month, which is now being given to sort the property out and get a new tenant in, is simply not enough of a turnaround.

“No landlord I have spoken to was consulted on the council tax exemption changes and we’re having to pay for services that empty properties don’t use.”

Portfolio holder for finance, Coun John Upsall, said: “There was no requirement for local authorities to consult over these council tax changes, but we decided to consult with residents as part of our broader consultation surrounding council tax support.

“Our decision to limit the council tax exemption to one month for private landlords was taken to actively encourage property owners to ensure that their property can be occupied quickly.

“East Lindsey has a large number of properties in the private rented sector - more than many other Lincolnshire districts and the equally large number of people seeking rented housing are reliant on these properties being available. This policy acts as an important motivator to landlords.”

But director at Stevens Property in Louth, Charlotte Stevens, believes the incentive for landlords has now been reduced.

“The lowered council tax exemption period is making it very difficult for landlords to find a tenant quickly, it is reducing the incentive,” Charlotte said.

“The amount of time it takes us to turn everything around, which includes all the legal work, credit checks and the inventory, can take at least three to four weeks on its own.

“One month we feel certainly isn’t fair. Even a three-month period of even discounted tax would be better.

“Single living occupants get 25 per cent discounted tax on their own, so it would be good if we could get a better rate whilst we get the properties filled.”

Wendy Taylor, lettings manager at Patricia Williams Lettings and Management, also based in Louth added: “The new exemption period is putting more pressure on us to find tenants and fill the properties quickly and a number of landlords are still unaware of this situation.

“This cut from six months to one is very extreme, we would be happy to comprise to like three months. This would still see a drop, just not as big.”

County Coun Anne Reynolds said: “The guidance, from my own interpretation, was aimed at long-term (over six months empty and derelict properties).

“The guidance was not intended to permit local councils to financially batter private landlords.”

If you are a private landlord or have a property that you let out, you can support this petition. Copies of the petition are at Stevens Property and Patricia Williams Lettings and Management, both situated in the Cornmarket in Louth. Or if you want to know more email Paul on: paulbriggs01@googlemail.com.