Councillors have agreed to remove the Council Tax discount currently applied to empty properties in the Borough as a further measure to tackle the number of vacant premises in RCT.

It was also agreed that any income generated will be re-invested directly into bringing the empty properties back into use. Since 2016 the Council has invested over £3M into a range of measures aimed at tackling this issue.

This change will come into effect from April 1, 2018.

Rhondda Cynon Taf is one of eleven Councils in Wales who currently apply a 50% discount to vacant or empty properties.

At a meeting of Full Council it was agreed that the Council will use its discretionary powers and that the current policy of giving a 50% Council Tax discount on long term empty properties be removed in order to discourage property owners allowing empty properties to remain empty for long periods and falling into disrepair.

Empty properties which are unoccupied and unfurnished are initially exempt from Council Tax for up to six months. A property is considered to be ‘long-term empty’ if it has been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than six months and does not qualify for another class of exemption from Council Tax.

In 2004, the Local Government Act (2003) gave Councils new discretionary powers to reduce or remove the 50% Council Tax discount awarded in respect of long-term empty properties. The overall number of properties classified as ‘long-term empty’ within Rhondda Cynon Taf has remained relatively constant over the past 10 years with the number as at December 31, 2017, being 2,600.

Since 2004, across Wales, a number of councils have used their discretionary powers to remove the discount entirely, and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is currently one of 11 councils that still apply the 50% reduction in the level of Council Tax charged for long-term empty dwellings.

Sixty percent of the empty properties in Rhondda Cynon Taf have been empty for between 1 and 4 years, and a further 24% for 5 years or more. These can have a detrimental effect on other properties in their vicinity, in terms of both market value and quality of life, and can also encourage anti-social behaviour such as vandalism, littering, squatting and crime.

The report considered by Council estimated that by removing the 50% discount, an additional £1.5M in Council Tax would be raised in 2018/19. It is was subsequently agreed that this additional income generated will be ring-fenced to support the delivery of the Council’s ambition to bring empty properties back into use and revitalise our communities and town centres. Accordingly the additional resources generated during 2018/19 will be added to the Council’s Empty Property Grant Scheme, as initially established by Cabinet on April 19, 2016.

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