A SON struggling to sell his late mother’s flat will be hit with a 100% increase in council tax on her empty property even though she is no longer around to use council services.
John Bottomley has been told Cheshire West and Chester Council’s proposed hike on vacant accommodation aims to encourage owners to bring empty dwellings back into use.
But Mr Bottomley, 59, of Steele Street, Chester, has been trying to sell his mother’s retirement apartment in Handbridge since she died in September 2009 and now faces a doubling in the annual £862 council tax bill.
He said: “I’m not a landlord, negligent or otherwise. I’m just desperate to sell my mother’s home.
“It has been on the market at a price well below the valuation. I have changed estate agents twice but the market is almost dormant, with those who would usually want to move into retirement flats like this often unable to sell their own homes. I never thought it would take as long as this.”
At the moment Mr Bottomley receives a 25% discount on his mum’s council tax bill but councillors will soon vote to remove the concession on properties which have lain empty for at least two years and the sum demanded after that will be the full council tax plus a new premium charge of 50%. Budget papers reveal the move will net the cash-strapped authority an extra £1.6m.
Mr Bottomley, who is joint executor of his mother’s estate with his sister Kathryn, added: “This will see the council tax bill we have to pay on my mother’s property leap from £862 to double that – plus whatever other increases are decided. It will penalise us hugely for something that’s not our fault and, of course, I still have my own council tax to pay.”
Mr Bottomley isn’t prepared to sell the flat at a rock-bottom price as he must still cover the care home fees owed to Wrexham Borough Council for looking after his mum during her long decline with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Her dementia meant she never knew this but, unlike others in the home, she was trapped in the abyss of self-funding, using all her savings to pay for what was truly excellent care.
“When these funds ran out, Wrexham put a charge on the value of her flat so she could continue to be cared for.
“They have been excellent with me, very patient, but they do want their money and it is a considerable sum. The services and benefits this property receives from Chester council are negligible at best and this new charge is, quite simply, outrageous.”