OWNERS of empty homes in the district will be forced to pay double council tax.
The Empty Property Council Tax Premium agreed by Stratford District Council’s cabinet this week will see homes which have been empty for two years or more charged extra.
There are currently just over 200 properties in the district which would qualify for the premium, which will raise around £186,000 a year. The district council retains around eight per cent of council tax collected and this would amount to around £15,000.
The decision follows a change in government legislation which allows councils to increase the premium from 50 per cent to 100 per cent.
SDC head of revenues David Platts said: “This levy is part of the government drive to increase the number of properties back on to the market and so contribute to the national shortfall in housing numbers.”
The current exemptions around those receiving hospital care, serving in the armed forces, cases awaiting probate, those suffering with severe mental impairment, and any property on the market for genuine sale, will remain exempt from the new premium.
SDC has already been making efforts to see empty properties in the district brought back into use.
Last week the Observer reported on the council’s success in obtaining an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO)
to take over an eyesore property in Stratford which had been empty for more than three years.
The property has now been rennovated and a previously homeless family moved in at the start of the year.