Mayor Boris Johnson has written to fifteen London councils urging them to charge higher council tax on properties which remain empty for six months or more.
More than half of the capital’s local authorities already make use of powers allowing them to charge up to 150% of the standard council tax rate where properties remain empty long-term.
The premium is intended to encourage home owners to bring properties back into use and to discourage the purchase of homes by overseas buyers who only use them for a few weeks each year.
Fourteen London councils currently only charge the standard rate on empty homes while the City of London offers a discretionary 50% discount on homes which remain empty and unfurnished.
Mayor Johnson says his office has now written to these 15 authorities urging them to apply the 50% premium.
He has also lobbied Government ministers to increase the maximum premium councils can charge, having previously said he’d like to see the rate raised to 10 times the standard council tax level.
Details of the Mayor’s actions were released in response to a question from London Assembly member Darren Johnson who says councils “should use every tool in the box to tackle the empty homes that blight their neighbourhoods.”
He added: “I’m glad the Mayor is pushing them to hike up taxes on homes that have stood empty for more than six months, and hope the government will be persuaded that much higher taxes are needed to tackle the ghost homes owned by rich investors.
“We need a cross-party push to allow councils to impose a tax of up to ten times the current council tax, so that it stops the scandal of investors buying properties which are then left empty for no good reason.”