A business man has told how he is ‘outraged’ at being handed a 150 per cent Council Tax bill on a house he bought less than three months ago.
Barry Denny, the managing director of Denny Bros in Bury St Edmunds, runs a property renovation company Lark Valley Projects, with his son Matt.
They are working on their seventh project a house in Barrow they bought through probate.
Last week, St Edmundsbury Borough Council approved changes to Council Tax which meant those who own a home that has been empty for two years will now have to pay 150 per cent of the Council Tax bill.
They had previously been exempt for 12 months.
The council has said the extra tax is to encourage more empty homes to be brought back into use, in turn meeting some of the shortfall in the housing market.
Mr Denny said they only bought the house in December but have since been told that it had been empty for 22 months prior to this and so they will have to pay the higher tax.
“I am absolutely outraged. This is scandalous.”
“We are not using the services that Council Tax pays for.
“There is nobody living here. Its unhabitable. There are no bins to collect.
“What are we paying it for?
“We are already paying Council Tax for where we live.”
Mr Denny said it could have the opposite effect to what the council intended, with property developers put off from buying homes that have been empty for a long time.
“We are trying to bring homes back onto to the market and we are being penalised for it.
“I run a business, if I charged people for a service they haven’t had, our business would survive,” Mr Denny said.
“No other business would be able to get away with this.”
A council spokeswoman said that cuts to Government grants meant it had to ‘share the burden’ with people previously exempt from paying Council Tax – the alternative was to cut services or increase everybody’s Council Tax.
She said that the money from the whole bill will pay for things like highways, the fire service and the police, all of which may apply to a property even if it is unoccupied.
Some 1’708 people were consulted and 74 per cent of respondents said owners of empty properties should pay more.
She also confirmed that empty homes premium will be backdated to apply on all homes that have been empty for two years.