November 22, 2017 / 1:49 PM / a year ago

Britain to introduce extra levy on empty properties

An apartment block is constructed behind a row of traditional properties in central London December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - British councils will be able to double an annual charge paid by homeowners who leave their properties empty, in a new levy which could hit foreign buyers, Chancellor Philip Hammond said on Wednesday.

Overseas investors have bought up large numbers of properties in central London, angering locals who complain they are just being used to park money, pushing up rents and prices and forcing locals to look further afield.

“It can’t be right to leave property empty when so many are desperate for a place to live, so we will give local authorities the power to charge a 100 percent council tax premium on empty properties,” Hammond said during his annual budget statement.

All homeowners pay an annual council tax, which helps to fund local services.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

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