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Gloucestershire Business News

Owners of empty Gloucestershire homes could be hit with 300 per cent increase in council tax bill

Stroud District Council is taking action to tackle the housing shortage by forcing owners of properties that have been left empty for long periods to pay a 300 per cent increase on their council tax bills.

The council have approved a measure that is aimed at incentivising property owners to bring longstanding empty homes back into use.

The council say there are 193 properties in the district that have been empty for more than two years - a figure that has risen from 152 since October 2015.

Since 2016, Stroud District Council has charged an additional 50 per cent council tax to properties that have either been unoccupied or unfurnished for more than two years.

Further changes introduced by the government have sought to improve the availability in the housing market.

A report considered by Strategy and Resources Committee and full Council this week said where premiums on council tax bills had been charged, the number of empty homes had been reduced.

Council Leader Doina Cornell said: "We know there is a shortage of housing in the district and while we are doing all we can to build more council homes, help landlords let their properties, and work with community land trusts to tackle that, this approach is aimed at maximising what we already have.

"Other councils are following this Government initiative which aims to release homes which should be lived in."

Councillor Chas Townley, chair of the council's Housing Committee added: "The Council wants to work with owners to bring properties back into use.

"We can offer free advice if the owner is willing to make affordable rented housing available - and we have £15,000 interest-free loans towards renovation and repair costs."

Approval at Thursday night's meeting means that owners of long term empty properties that have been empty and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period, will be increased.

Homes empty for two years or more will be subject to a 100 per cent increased from April 1, 2020 while on the same date those which have been empty for five years will be subject to a 200 per cent increase.

Any property that has been empty for 10 years or more from April 1 2021 will be subject to the 300 per cent increase.

The council have said there will be two exceptions in the legislation where the premium charges will not apply.

If a property is left empty by a serving member of the armed forces who is absent as a result of their service, and for empty annexes.

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