Burnley OAP victim to new council tax rules

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A retired homeowner says new rules on council tax – designed to reduce the number of empty properties in Burnley – are penalising people such as him.

Mr David Ross (70) has placed his house in Parker Street, Harle Syke, up for sale, and moved to a rented bungalow nearby.

But new rules introduced by Burnley Council mean that after the first two months, council tax must be paid in full on the property.

Previously, homeowners were entitled to one free month of council tax on an unoccupied property with the following five months at 50%.

The changes were made to encourage absentee landlords to find tenants for their properties quickly.

Mr Ross said: “I can understand why the council does not want houses empty for too long, but I think this unfairly penalises homeowners such as myself.

“It would have been better to draw a distinction between landlords and private homeowners.”

Helen Seechurn, Burnley Council’s director of resources, said: “A new system of council tax discounts for empty properties was introduced in April. It means owners don’t have to pay any council tax on an empty unfurnished property for the first two months, before paying the full amount.

“We want to see empty homes brought back into use and occupied as quickly as possible. In the private rented sector we believe two months is sufficient time to find a new tenant for an empty property. In the case of a house sale, in most cases the property is on the market for some time and owners only move out once they have a buyer in place.”

What do you think of the new rules? Are they fairer?