COUNCILLORS are set to make a final decision on whether to charge more council tax for long term empty properties and second homes in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Plans to charge a 100% council tax premium on properties empty for more than two years and for second homes and a 50% premium on properties empty for between one and two years are due to go before full council on Wednesday, January 18, for a final decision.
In December, cabinet gave its backing to the proposals and has recommended them to full council for approval having considered the feedback from the consultation on the plans.
The recommendation is that the premium for long term empty properties comes into force from April 1, 2023, while the premium for second homes is introduced from April 1, 2024.
The report said that the charging of a premium on long-term empty properties would raise additional revenue through council tax which is estimated at £1.5m a year but will be subject to review and confirmation once the exceptions are found and applied.
The charging of a premium on second homes would raise an estimated extra £400,000 in council tax a year and the extra revenue raised would support the continuation of the council’s Empty Homes Strategy.
The council report shows that there are 406 properties which have been empty for between one and two years in RCT and 1,310 which have been empty for more than two years.
During the consultation, most comments were from owners of empty properties and second homes who disagreed with the plans but 65.3% of residents who responded backed the proposals for the long term empty properties and 60% backed the proposal for second homes.
The council report said that RCT would write to each home owner, once a decision is made, to advise them of the forthcoming changes so they are given as much advance notice as possible.
The initial report to cabinet in October last year when they agreed to consult on the plans said that from April 2018, owners of long-term empty dwellings have been required to pay a full council tax bill and that the number of long-term empty dwellings has fallen by 22% since the council tax discount was removed.
But data from August 2022 shows there are still around 2,000 long-term empty properties in the county borough at any given time.
It also said there are a smaller number of second homes in Rhondda Cynon Taf (346) but this number has increased by over 80% since April 2018.
The October cabinet report also said that an analysis of council tax data showed that around 40% of properties classed as long-term empty and 40% of second homes are owned by people who do not live in Rhondda Cynon Taf.
The October cabinet report also said: “Despite the removal of a 50% discount in the council tax in April 2018, there remain almost 2,000 long-term empty properties across Rhondda Cynon Taf.
“The prospect of paying a premium on the council tax bill may encourage more property owners to bring their empty homes back into use in a timelier manner.
“The number of properties classified as ‘second homes’ is increasing within Rhondda Cynon Taf and while these are still relatively low, the properties are being kept vacant for long periods and in general terms precluded from the available housing stock.
“Therefore, it would be reasonable to consider whether a premium should be paid in addition to the council tax liability.”
The report said that the council has powers to charge premiums in relation to second homes and long term empty properties with a view to “bringing empty properties back into use, increasing the supply of affordable housing and enhancing the sustainability of local communities.”