SOME empty homes in the New Forest face having their council tax tripled amid vows by civic chiefs to take action if they are not brought back into use.
Currently the district council imposes a 150% council tax charge on properties empty for five years or more – of which there are currently 32.
But it plans to increase the five-year charge to 200% and impose a 300% charge on the 11 homes that have been empty for a decade.
Despite a report revealing those changes could net the authority just under £40,000 a year, however, members of NFDC’s ruling cabinet opted to delay the changes until at least 2022.
They said it was because of the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the housing
market and building works to some empty homes.
As reported, NFDC housing boss Cllr Jill Cleary told the meeting she was desperate to boost local housing supply and would do what she could to get empty homes occupied.
“We will tackle long-term empty properties in our district to ensure housing does not sit there empty for years on end,” she said.
“In this regard we will work with owners to bring empty properties back to use and we will not shy away from taking formal action where it is appropriate.”
She unveiled NFDC’s new strategy for the local private housing sector, for which a survey within the past year revealed 94.5% (72,269) dwellings were occupied, with the remainder vacant – the equivalent of 4,195 homes.
Of those, 2,592 had been empty for less than six months but 685 were longer and “typically regarded as problematic in occupancy terms”. The other 918 were either holiday lets or second homes.
Tackling empty homes is one of five key priorities identified within the strategy, which added NFDC will “proactively work to identify” long-term empty properties, “target” owners and provide support, advice and information to homeowners to bring others back into use.
The other four priorities include delivering safe homes, adapted living, increasing partnerships and promoting energy efficiency.
NFDC said forming private sector housing strategy helped it prevent homelessness and make the best use of the council’s housing stock.