Charges increase for empty houses

Empty properties near Berry's, Leyland
Empty properties near Berry's, Leyland

A scheme to charge owners of empty properties more in council tax has been passed by full council at South Ribble.

The new rules mean some owners who have not made attempts to bring homes back into use after two years will face a 150 per cent charges hike after previously being exempt from paying council tax.

All party members voted through the amendment to the council’s Empty Homes Policy at a meeting this month, which abolishes the council tax discount previously enjoyed by owners of vacant households.

Labour leader Coun Matthew Tomlinson, who is also Leyland’s county councillor, said: “We welcome this, and we hope it might lead to some changes, such as with the empty homes next to Berry’s on Golden Hill Lane in Leyland.

“I doubt they would have been empty for so long if Berry’s had had to pay one and a half times the council tax.”

The eight vacant homes are owned by Berry’s and have been empty since 2006.

The firm plans to demolish them to make way for a business expansion.

The new tax rules, which will take effect from April 1, will immediately apply to properties which have been empty for more than six months.

Owners of any households which become vacant after April this year will have a ‘grace period’ of six months where the tax exemption will still apply, giving them chance to occupy the property.