Home-owners may soon have to pay double council tax if they leave a property empty for more than two years.
Fylde Council already charges the owners of long-term vacant homes 50 per cent more in council tax but is considering increasing the additional cost to 100 per cent – meaning bills will
It is hoped the move will reduce the number of vacant homes in the borough, with more than 200 already being lived in again since the initial premium was introduced.
A report to Fylde’s environment, health and housing committee says the additional charge is discretionary.
It adds: “However, the premium provides a strong incentive to owners to bring the property back into use and an increase in the premium to 200 per cent of the normal council tax charge may encourage those owners that have not already done so, to take action to ensure their property is brought back into use.”
Since the introduction of the 50 per cent premium in 2014, the number of long-term empty properties in the borough – which includes the towns of Lytham, St Annes and Kirkham – has dropped from 710 in October 2013 to 450 in November last year.
This is a reduction of 36 per cent, or 260 properties.
It is also hoped the scheme would prevent buildings falling into neglect.
The report says: “After two years of remaining empty, properties may start to deteriorate and impact negatively on neighbourhoods.
“The return to use of long term empty properties may also contribute to the level of New Homes Bonus receivable by the council, and helps to improve current housing stock and increase the overall supply of housing.”
Owners would be warned three or four months ahead of the date when double council tax would kick in, giving them chance to take action such as letting their property out.
Some homes, such as those owned by charities, would be exempt from the additional charge.
Councillors will consider the recommendation when the committee meets today. If they agree, it will then go to full council for final approval.