The owners of homes in Chichester which have been empty for years will find themselves facing massive council tax bills.
Last year, Chichester District Council agreed that any homes which had been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years would be charged a 100 per cent premium – meaning the owners would pay double the usual council tax.
The idea was to ‘encourage’ homeowners to bring their properties back into use – and 75 properties were hit by the charge.
Members of the cabinet have now agreed to extend the charges.
In 2020/21, a 100 per cent premium will be added for homes which have been empty for between two and five years. There are 41 in the district.
A 200 per cent premium will be applied to homes which have been empty for more than five years. There are 34 in the district.
From 2021/22, a massive 300 per cent premium will be applied to homes which have been empty for more than ten years.
A report put to the cabinet said the 100 per cent premium would bring in an extra £13,200 in council tax for the district, while the 200 per cent premium would bring in an extra £5,500.
Paul Jobson, the council’s revenues operations manager, said: “It’s important that the council take empty homes seriously and that lots of work is put into these statistics.
“We have an inspection team that are constantly visiting properties across the district to make sure that we do know what is an empty property so we can take appropriate action.”
Mr Jobson said their were exceptions, with people who had moved into care homes being exempt from the charges. He added that the council worked with people who had inherited property – and found themselves lumbered with a large bill – to ensure the money was paid from the sale of the home.
The cabinet also agreed that it would continue to give no discount for second homes in 2020/21 because ‘the council does not accept that there is a valid reason for treating second homes more favourably than first homes’.
The meeting was told that, of the 57,800 properties in the district, 3,150 were listed as second homes – around 1 in every 18 homes – of which 675 had been unoccupied and unfurnished for less than two years.