Owners of empty properties in Rugby will soon have to pay council tax

File picture.
File picture.

Owners of empty properties in Rugby and the surrounding area will soon have to pay council tax after councillors agreed to remove a 100 per cent discount.

And if houses remain empty for more than two years then owners will have to pay extra – up to four times more in some cases.

The move was agreed by councillors at this week’s Rugby Borough Council cabinet meeting who also voted to charge the tax on uninhabitable properties which had previously been exempt for up to 12 months.

Since April 2013, owners of unoccupied and unfurnished homes were charged nothing for council tax for six months before it returned to the usual rate.

If the premises were still empty after two years then an additional 50 per cent was slapped on top of the bill to encourage them to bring the property back into use.

But a report to the meeting pointed out that none of the neighbouring councils were as generous with their discounts and a representative from the National Landlords Association said that 90 per cent of councils they dealt with charged the full amount from the first day of being empty.

The new arrangements would bring in around £600,000 in extra income, some £66,000 of which would go to the borough council.

As part of the changes, it would make no difference if a property was deemed to be uninhabitable and there would be a sliding scale of extra premiums for homes left empty to long periods with a 300 per cent surcharge put on the bills of any still empty after ten years.

The report added that the rules would also apply to properties in Rugby Borough Council’s own housing stock and that a number of exemptions would remain such as when the owner is in prison or in residential care.