Burnley Council is to change how much council tax it charges on long-term empty properties in the borough in a bid to encourage owners to bring them back into use.
It follows a Government decision to change the rules which allows local authorities to charge a greater council tax premium on vacant homes.
Since 2013 councils such as Burnley have been able to charge 50% on top of the usual council tax rate on properties that have been empty for two years or longer.
This was introduced as an incentive to encourage private landlords to get tenants into their houses and reduce the number of properties lying empty for a long time.
Over the past five years the number of properties being charged the premium has dropped by almost 20%, as a result of a range of initiatives to tackle vacant houses in the borough.
Now the Government has agreed that councils can increase the premium to 100%.
From April homes across Burnley borough which have been empty for more than two years will see their council tax bill double – a full charge plus the 100% premium. There are currently 438 properties in the borough that are charged a 50% premium.
Coun. Sue Graham, the council’s executive member for resources and performance management, said: “Properties left empty for years are a blight on our neighbourhoods and spoil the quality of life for the residents living near them. The increased premium will act as an incentive to owners to bring these long-term vacant properties back into use rather than allowing them to simply sit empty.
“Vacant houses often attract vandalism and crime. The extra council tax premium is just part of wider work to bring long-term empty houses back into use. We’re determined to use a range of initiatives to reduce the number of empty houses in our borough.
“It’s important to emphasis that this would only apply to properties that have been empty for two years or more.”
The new legislation also allows councils to triple the council tax on homes left empty for five to 10 years from April 2020 (a full charge plus 200% premium) and from April 2021 councils can quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade (a full charge plus 300% premium). The council will review its position later this year.