Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet have approved plans to start a consultation process about increasing the council tax charge for owners of second homes and long-term empty properties.
The local authority has powers available to charge council tax premiums through the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.
The proposal would help to bring empty homes back into use to provide safe, secure and affordable homes and would also support the council to improve the sustainability of local communities.
A long-term empty property is defined as a place of residence, which is both unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least one year.
If approved, the plans would likely be in place for the 2023-24 financial year, which would give the council time to make sure residents are aware of this change.
The Council would write to each homeowner, once a decision is made, to advise them of the forthcoming change providing as much advance notice as possible.
As of October 2022, the latest data shows there are 701 long-term empty properties in the county borough. Out of the above total, 275 properties have been vacant for over five years.
In line with Welsh Government guidance, the local authority is allowed to retain any additional funds generated by implementing the premium. Authorities are encouraged to use any additional revenue to help meet local housing needs.
A 4-week consultation period will begin tomorrow (16 November), which will include the council writing directly to the owner of every empty property to invite their feedback. Residents will be able to have their say via the council’s website.
The results of the consultation will then be presented to Cabinet in due course.
Cllr Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Future Generations and Wellbeing, said: “When so many people are facing the very real threat of homelessness, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure all empty properties are being made available.
“While new homes are key, they take time to develop, and I hope this move will ensure that existing residential stock is being brought back on to the market sooner rather than later.
“It’s also reassuring to see that Welsh Government encourage any additional revenue to be used to invest in local housing, which can have an additional positive effect for our community.”