A SCHEME to tackle empty homes in Solihull borough is set to be approved by the council after law changes.
The move would mean an owner of a vacant property could be charged up to three times more council tax.
The aim is to encourage landlords to bring them back into use.
More than 1,200 homes are derelict – half of them for more than six months, according to council data.
Solihull Council chiefs hope the plan will bring much needed properties back into use amid rising demand for homes and homelessness, locally and nationally.
The proposals are outlined in a report to cabinet next Thursday (February 7), and seek councillors’ approval to change the ’empty property premium’.
It would mean from April 1 this year, a council tax premium of 100 per cent may be applied to properties that have been empty for two years.
From April 1 next year this could double for properties which have been empty for more than five years.
And it could treble for properties empty for more than 10 years from April 1, 2021.
The government announced the empty homes council tax premium increase in the summer.
A council officer’s agenda report to cabinet next week says: “The demand for housing in Solihull is high. Through charging the maximum empty property premium permitted by the legislation this will further encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use quicker than under the current charges.
“For those owners who wish to bring their empty property back into use, help and advice is available from the council.
“An empty homes group was established in 2015 with a range of colleagues from various directorates to review progress on empty properties within Solihull.
“Since the group was formed, 31 per cent of the properties they reviewed are now occupied.
“For those owners who are actively trying to bring their property back into use or who may suffer financial hardship as a result of the proposed changes they will be able to make an application to have their premium reduced or waivered.”
From April 1, 2013, councils have been able to charge a premium equal to 50 per cent of council tax liability for properties empty for more than two years.
Solihull Council has gained more than £160,000 from this charge since it was introduced, raising more and more each year.
The new measures could generate additional income of £36,000 for 2019/20, £81,000 for 2020/21 and £123,000 for 2021/22, council chiefs say.