LANDLORDS and property owners in a Yorkshire district are being urged to bring their empty properties back to life to avoid an increase in council tax from the spring.
From April 1, properties in Calderdale empty for more than two years will pay full council tax plus an additional charge – the empty homes premium – of 50 per cent.
Owners will be given a 30-day exemption from council tax if their property becomes empty.
Buyers of long-term empty homes will be able to apply for a repayment of the empty homes premium they have paid between the purchase date and the date it becomes occupied, if this happens within a year.
There will be a temporary exemption for six months from council tax for victims of flood and fire if the property is classed as being uninhabitable and reasonable efforts are made to bring it back into use.
There are currently 823 empty homes which will be affected by the empty homes premium. Owners will be contacted and offered advice to help them bring their empty homes back into use.
The authority’s cabinet member for economy and environment, Coun Barry Collins, said: “The council understands that landlords need a little time to find a new tenant for their property and doesn’t want to penalise them for taking time to carry out improvements and necessary checks.
“However, a clear message needs to be sent that it isn’t acceptable to own a home that no one has occupied for years. It’s not good for the neighbours, the community and ultimately not good for the owner.”
A spokesman for the council said empty properties can create extra work for council staff, police and fire services.
The changes will bring Calderdale into line with neighbouring councils.
For more information about the plans, visit the empty housing pages on the Calderdale Council website, or call 0845 245 6000.