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Rates (Empty Houses)

Volume 887: debated on Thursday 6 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in view of current difficulties experienced by vendors in selling their houses, he will take steps to suspend the powers of local authorities to levy rates on empty dwellings in these circumstances.

I do not think a general exemption would be appropriate. Since 1st April 1974 rating authorities have had a wide discretion in the exercise of their powers to rate empty property, including the ability to apply the empty property rate only to specified classes of property, to levy different percentages of the full rate on different classes of property, and to reduce or remit the rate where hardship would otherwise be caused to the person liable to pay the rate. We must look to rating authorities to use their powers flexibly in the light of market conditions and local circumstances.