Properties that are left vacant for periods of six months or more will no longer enjoy the 50% discount and from 1 April 2004 owners will have to pay the full council tax, if councillors agree. It is hoped that this will give owners the incentive to find tenants or to sell the property on the open market.
'Reducing the discount for second homes could see a reduction in the current high demand in the city for second homes. There are currently around 2,600 such homes in the city and this is contributing to the high property prices which in turn drives many local people out of the housing market.'
Councillor Burgess adds: 'I am happy to say that members of all political parties broadly support this proposal which is financially advantageous to the city. It should increase our council tax revenues by about £1m.'
The council's own housing stock would be subject to any increased long-term empty charge, however the council has recently improved the turn around time to re-let its properties and currently less than one half of one per cent of the housing stock would fall into the long-term vacant category.