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Bridgend approves plans to tackle empty properties

Empty homes

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet has approved plans for the authority to join Welsh Government’s National Empty Properties Scheme, whilst proposals to introduce a council tax premium on long term empty properties were given the go ahead at full council.

Both plans are aimed at bringing more empty properties back into use and will help to increase the supply of affordable housing across the county borough.

As part of the National Empty Properties Scheme, the council is now required to enter into a Service Level Agreement with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council who have been confirmed as the scheme’s lead authority. There is also a commitment to match funding on a case-by-case basis to the level of approximately £124,000.

To qualify for the grant, a property must have been registered as ‘empty’ with the council for a minimum period of 12 months before the start of any works.

Aside from property owners, registered social landlords, local authorities and community housing groups will also be able to access the funding which will be used to bring these properties back into use as affordable housing.

The terms of the scheme include:

  • Only one application per person
  • The maximum grant per application will be £25,000
  • Energy efficiency improvements will be a requirement as part of the works undertaken on the property
  • A minimum 15% applicant contribution will be required
  • Any other costs above the grant and contribution must be met by the applicant

Once the works have been completed, the successful applicant must then live in that property as their main and only residence for a minimum of five years.

The scheme will be fully operational from 1st April 2023; however, Welsh Government launched the scheme on 30 January 2023 to allow applications to be made prior to the start of the new financial year.

To further reinforce the council’s commitment to bringing more properties back into use, it has also been agreed to introduce a 100% council tax premium on long term empty properties which will come into force on 1 April 2023.

Also, a council tax premium on second homes is set to begin on 1 April 2024, subject to a further report being brought back to Council ahead of a final decision next year.

Councils in Wales have the powers to implement council tax premiums on long term empty properties and second homes under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Any additional money raised through these charges will be used to support local housing needs.

When so many people are facing the very real threat of homelessness, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure more empty properties are being brought back into use.

We are desperate for more homes in Bridgend County Borough and we hope these measures provide both a carrot and a stick approach to encourage owners to bring their properties back into use for the benefit of the community.

Councillor Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Future Generations and Wellbeing