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Council tax could quadruple for owners of long-term empty properties

20 Mar 2024 2 minute read
Caerphilly Council Office

Nicholas Thomas, local democracy reporter

Owners of long-term empty properties could see their council tax payments quadruple from next year.

The council’s cabinet wants to make Caerphilly the latest part of Wales to charge premiums on empty homes.

Council leader Sean Morgan said the policy would help reduce the number of empty homes which have “blighted” communities by becoming run down and attracting antisocial behaviour and vermin.

The premiums are a Welsh Government idea designed to increase the nation’s housing stock by making it costly for owners to hang on to empty homes.

Such owners are also offered grants to help them bring vacant properties back up to scratch.

In Caerphilly, the council estimates there are 885 long-term empty homes, of which the majority have been vacant for more than two years.

Sliding scale

Cabinet members have now backed a plan to introduce premiums on a sliding scale.

Homes empty for at least two years will be charged a 100% premium on council tax bills – effectively doubling the amount owed.

That will increase to a 200% premium for homes empty for longer than three years, and for properties which are empty for five years or longer the maximum 300% premium will apply.

Owners of second homes will also have to pay a 100% premium on those properties, under the new policy endorsed by cabinet on Wednesday (March 20).

Shayne Cook, the cabinet member for housing, said the premiums were “intended to be used as part of a wider strategy” to maximise the number of inhabitable homes across the county borough.

Enforcement options

The council has its own empty homes team which offers advice and support to owners of such properties, and – if incentives fail – pursues enforcement options as a last resort.

Sean O’Donnell, Caerphilly’s principal council tax officer, said the new premiums policy could be implemented from April 2025 once full councillors vote on the proposals.

Council deputy leader Jamie Pritchard said: “We are giving a fair amount of notice to people before it comes into force.”

Cabinet member Nigel George asked how the council would use the money it raised from the premiums to “tackle the housing crisis”.

The anticipated revenue will “be used in part to fund our empty properties team”, Fiona Wilkins, the council’s housing services manager, explained.

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