LANDLORDS in Pendle could be hit with a 50 per cent increase in council tax if their properties are left empty for more than two years.

Pendle Council’s executive committee will consider introducing the Empty Homes Premium at their meeting next Thursday.

If they vote in favour of the scheme it would mean an extra 50 per cent will be added to council tax bills on long-term empty properties from April 1 this year.

Dean Langton, head of central and regeneration services, explained that if the measure was introduced it could encourage owners to bring them back into use.

He said: “Although we’re making good progress to reduce the number of empty properties we have in Pendle, there are clusters which are causing problems and attracting anti-social behaviour.”

Currently there are 564 properties in Pendle which are classed as being unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years. Most of them are in Band A for council tax.

Julie Whittaker, economic and housing regeneration manager, said: “We’ve worked hard to tackle empty properties as part of our Empty Homes Plan and we’ve seen a significant reduction.

“Since the appointment of our Empty Homes Officer in 2009 there’s been a marked increase in the number of empty homes brought back into use, including more than 180 long-term empty properties between 2011 and 2013.

Coun Joe Cooney, leader of Pendle Council, said: “We provide a lot of help, financial and otherwise, to owners of empty properties to help them bring them back into use.

“But despite this we need to introduce a new measure which will be an added incentive for owners to do this.

“We want to avoid empty properties falling into disrepair and becoming a blight on their area.”