Owners of second homes and empty properties in Powys could be charged double the council tax of other houses, councillors have heard.

A consultation is set to get underway that would allow the public to have a say over increasing council tax payments on holiday homes and properties that have been empty for a long time.

The plans were put forward at a meeting of Powys County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, September 15.

It is thought that increasing the amount owners have to pay will be an incentive for these properties to be used.

If the consultation comes out in favour, the council will have the option to double the council tax bill on those properties.

Portfolio holder for Finance, Cllr Aled Davies, (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochant & Llansilin – Conservative), said: “It’s important that we try and get as many empty properties as we can into the system, there’s always pressures on residents not being able to find suitable housing.

“The more we can do to help the better.”

Cllr Davies explained that in 2016 the previous administration had brought in a council tax premium that added an extra 50 per cent on top of the council tax bill for these properties.

The data showed that nearly 200 properties had come into use the following year, but since then the number of empty properties has edged back up.

Cllr Davies: “We have a significant number of empty properties and we will run a consultation on the possibility of increasing the premium charged on those houses.”

The council's portfolio holder for housing, Cllr James Evans, added: “We have a homeless crisis and we have a number of people across the county that are in temporary accommodation.

“We need to get them into suitable housing.”

But Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, was concerned that this could affect farming families.

She explained that if the head of the family died, the family homestead could be empty for a few years, before a child was able to move in.

This change could force families to sell their traditional home.

Cllr Alexander, the portfolio holder for adult social services, said: “I do have a concern that when these properties do come on the open market, I’m afraid they are not bought by local people, they will be second home owners or down-shifters.”

And Cllr Davies told the meeting: “That’s precisely why we will run this consultation, to tease out these issues.”

The decision to holding a consultation was voted though unanimously.

The number of long term empty properties in Powys is:

  • April 2017 – 1,060
  • April 2018 – 862
  • April 2019 – 990
  • April 2020 – 996