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Council attempts to reduce empty properties.

A COUNCIL will remove the council tax discount which currently applies to vacant properties as it tries to reduce the number of empty properties in the area.

Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council said the money generated from this will be re-invested to bring the empty properties back into use.

The new changes are expected to come into effect from April 1. Empty properties, which are unoccupied and unfurnished, are initially exempt from council tax for up to six months.

RCT is one of 11 councils in Wales which currently apply a 50% discount to empty properties.

At a full council meeting it was agreed that this current policy will be removed to discourage property owners from allowing properties to remain empty for long periods and falling into disrepair.

Around 60% of the empty properties in RCT have been empty for between one and four years, and a further 24% have been empty for five years or more.

The report considered by RCT council estimated that by removing the 50% discount, an additional PS1.5m in council tax would be raised between 2018 and 2019.

A property is considered to be "long-term empty" if it has been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than six months.

The council's cabinet member for enterprise, development and housing, Robert Bevan, said: "Empty properties impact upon many communities across the length and breadth of Rhondda Cynon Taf.

"The council has recognised the importance of tackling the issue of empty properties and continues to invest in this area.

"A number of initiatives have been supported, including an interest-free loan scheme where the council has supported 53 loans to bring empty properties back into use, and, more recently in 2016, the council also introduced an innovative empty property grant to support owner occupiers in bringing vacant properties back into use.

"So far 118 applications have been approved and 44 homes have already been brought back into use through these grants."

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 20, 2018
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