North Kesteven District Council wants to crack down on the owners of long-term empty homes with massive council tax bills.
Members of the executive will next week hear how a ruling brought in last year, which saw any home which had been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years charged double the usual council tax, is believed to have reduced the number of long-term empty properties.
The idea was to encourage homeowners to bring their properties back into use.
The council said that between November 1, 2018, and September 1, 2019, the number of empty properties reduced from 130 to 109.
Of those, 59 properties have been empty for more than two years but fewer than five years.
Documents before the authority say: “The number of long term empty properties has reduced since April 2019 and this is believed to be as a consequence of the increased premium.
“It is likely that increasing the premium for those properties which have been long term empty for more than five years from April 1, 2020 could have a similar beneficial effect.”
Now, it wants to take advantage of Government legislation which will enable the following changes:
From April, 2020, any property empty for between five and 10 years will be charged triple their usual council tax. There are currently 28 homes in this band.
From April 2021, any property empty for more than 10 years will be charged four times their council tax. There are 21 properties in this band.
This means that for a Band D property – which for 2019/20 pays £164.70 to NKDC – the owner could pay between £329.40 and £658.80 extra a year.
The council says the figures equate to the council tax for 87 Band D properties – a total of £14,328.90 on the current 2019/20 rates.
In order to balance out the charges, the authority is also recommending several exceptions.
These include a grace period for new owners, and reductions in council tax if the owner is repairing the property, “making reasonable effort” to sell it on or making adjustments to make the property energy efficient or suitable for someone living with a disability.
If approved, a consultation on the changes will take place later this year.