WREXHAM Council looks set to get tough on owners of long-term empty properties and second homes.

Next week the authority is likely to agree an increase on the special council tax charge that owners of second homes and long-term empty properties pay.

The council currently charges a 50 per cent premium on both long-term empty properties and second homes for council tax.

Should the council wish to increase the amount of premium charged, this has to be agreed six months before the effective date so any agreement of council would mean this would be effective from April 1, 2024.

At Wednesday’s full council meeting, leader and lead member for finance, Esclusham Cllr Mark Pritchard (Ind) is to bring forward a report recommending the authority increases the premium on long term empty properties next year from 50 per cent to 100 per cent.

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Properties which have been empty for more than four years would be subject to a further premium of 50 per cent, so would have a 150 per cent premium.

The premium would also increase again from April 1, 2025, by a further 50 per cent, so would be an overall increase to 200 per cent with a further 50 per cent should the property be empty for four years.

In the report and recommendations to be voted on by all members of the council, it is explained that this move could help reduce the number of long-term empty properties across Wrexham.

But there will be some exemptions.

It says: “The proposal to increase premiums on Long Term Empty Properties from 1 April 2024 and April 2025, should act as a lever to help improve and reduce the number of long term empty properties which exist in the borough.

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“The increase in premium may act as a further reason why they would seek to sell or let the property to avoid paying a premium on the property.

“There are several exemptions which exist, which include properties for sale or let, or properties subject to planning conditions, job related dwellings, if these applied then the property would not be subject to the premium.

"In the event of hardship, this could be considered by the Head of Service and Chief Officer Finance and ICT under S13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.”

The report states that in 2022/23 there were 465 properties subject to the premium and this raised £163,000.

It adds: “Whilst this report is focusing on long term empty properties, work is also underway in reviewing properties which could be liable for a premium due to them being second homes.

“A report will be presented to council at a later date regarding any future proposals in relation to changing the current rate charged on these properties.

“Ideally these should be aligned in terms of the amount of premium levied but further analysis of numbers and consultation would be required before bringing a recommendation forward for approval.

“The use of levying the premium is an important tool in helping councils to bring long-term empty homes back into use which helps to provide safe, secure and affordable homes; and increase the supply of affordable housing and enhance the sustainability of local communities.

“The approach suggested in the recommendations is proportionate and should help increase the supply of properties available within the county borough. The decision to charge premiums is reviewed on an annual basis as part of the council tax setting process in the annual budget.”

The full meeting of Wrexham Council takes place on Wednesday (September 27).