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300% council tax premiums to tackle ‘blight’ of empty homes in Caerphilly

Shayne Cook (third from left) with Caerphilly council's Empty Property Team (Pic: CCBC)

OWNERS of long-term empty properties in Caerphilly will face 300% council tax premiums from next year.

The council hopes the policy will “incentivise” owners to bring empty homes back into use and help solve local housing shortages.

There are 885 properties in Caerphilly County Borough which have been empty for at least a year, including 264 which have been vacant for more than five years.

“Premiums will be an important tool to allow us to tackle the issue with more rigour,” Shayne Cook, the cabinet member for housing, said.

“We must do all we can to prevent properties from becoming long-term problems that impact on the wider community.”

The premiums will come into force in April 2025 on a sliding scale.

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Properties empty for at least two years will face 100% premiums – effectively doubling council tax bills – and this will increase to 200% for homes empty for at least three years, and the maximum 300% for homes left empty for more than five years.

Usual exemptions for paying council tax will continue to apply, however.

Second-home owners will also be subject to 100% premiums on their extra properties.

At a council meeting on Wednesday, Eluned Stenner, the cabinet member for finance, noted “most” Welsh authorities had adopted premiums, and said the policy could help provide more housing and prevent empty homes becoming problems.

The sliding-scale strategy for Caerphilly is more lenient than similar policies being brought in elsewhere in Wales.

But a public consultation on the council’s plans revealed some opposition to the premiums plan.

One in four respondents “strongly disagreed” with measures to reduce the number of long-term empty homes – but around 40% of people who took part in the consultation said they owned such properties.

Steve Harris, the council’s head of financial services, said it was “no surprise that where this could have a financial impact on people, they aren’t going to be supportive”.

Cllr Cook said long-term empty homes were a “blight on our borough” and “need to be tackled during the housing crisis”.

The premiums policy will work alongside the council’s award-winning empty homes team, which works with owners to bring properties back into use through grant incentives and, if that fails, through enforcement.