Council considers taxing empty Calderdale homes

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Councillors could raise an extra £2 million a year by charging home owners council tax as soon as their properties become vacant.

They could also levy an extra 50 per cent tax on homes which have been empty for more than two years and abolish discounts for properties under repair.

Implemented in full, the new charges would affect more than 10,000 householders, according to Calderdale Council’s community services director Robin Tuddenham.

Last year, 9,500 homes became vacant for a while and exempt from council tax for up to six months, which cost the council £1,785,000 in lost revenue.

“Removing discounts would provide a real incentive for owners to occupy properties or find tenants but could face opposition from landlords if applied to short periods between tenancies,” said Mr Tuddenham, in a report to the cabinet which meets on Monday.

He has recommended scrapping discounts from next April which would mean owners having to pay an average of £187 more for the year. In any event, they would have to pay full council tax after six months.

In 2011, there were 837 mainly smaller properties in Calderdale which had been empty for more than two years.

If owners were asked to pay a 50 per cent premium in addition to the normal council tax liability it would raise an extra £400,000.

Mr Tuddenham has advised delaying decisive action on the “empty homes premium” until the impact of other changes becomes clear.

The changes are provided for in the Local Government Finance Bill and at present do not require public consultation.