The housing crisis is a subject which is never too far from the news headlines. Whether it is uncapped rents, difficulties for first time buyers or ever increasing house prices, it is an issue which will affect most of us in some way or another. The problem is demonstrated in statistics, recently released by the Nationwide Building Society, which show that:

  • The average house price of a UK property increased 0.3% in January 2016.
  • Average house prices in January 2016 were 4.4% higher than the same period in 2015.
  • The average price of a UK property was £196,829 in January 2016.

Of course, one way of reducing house prices and rents is to build new properties and increase the number of properties coming onto the market. However, many property developers argue they are being put off building new homes by councils who enforce charges for uncompleted buildings.

Developers highlight council tax as one example of where they feel they are being unfairly charged. Current planning laws allow local authorities the ability to set a date from which they can enforce charges. As a result, many developers say they are being charged council tax on properties which are not complete or fit for living in.

“It has become relatively commonplace for new homes to be deemed complete for the purposes of council tax long before they are actually inhabitable. This is sometimes the case before even basic work has been completed, such as the walls have been plastered or the floors have been concreted” –Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The FMB is therefore calling for the unfair charges to be scrapped and calls on central Government to make the following changes:

  • Introduce a definition of when are new home is complete for the purposes of council tax.
  • Carry out a review of whether the removal of the automatic six month exemption for ‘unoccupied and substantially unfurnished’ dwellings should be applied to new dwellings.

They argue that, should these changes not be introduced, many small and medium sized developers will have little incentive to take on projects and build the homes the country so desperately needs.