FRESH penalties are set to be imposed on landlords by council bosses to tackle the problem of empty homes in Burnley and Padiham.

Council tax waivers have been available to house owners if the property is empty for less than six months.

But this will be replaced by a 50 per cent discount if proposals being considered by Burnley’s full council meeting are ratified on Thursday.

Empty properties which are undergoing major structural repairs, which similarly qualify for an exemption, will also be subject to the 50 per cent levy.

Other homes which have been empty for longer than six months, but not longer than a year, which currently enjoy a 50 per cent reduction, will also see this disappear. And the same discount on second homes, and furnished and unoccupied properties, will also cease, if the plans are given the go-ahead.

An extra council tax premium, for properties that have been empty for more than two years, is likewise being proposed, with landlords having to pay 150 per cent of the bill.

Council bosses admit that the scheme could prove to be unpopular with landlords, especially those left with a raft of short-term bills.

But it is estimated that such moves could recoup £1.7million for the town hall’s coffers — and help to tackle the 1,500 long-term empty homes problem in the borough.

Resources manager Caroline Lee said in a report to councillors: “Burnley Council has 3.72 per cent of its housing stock classified as long term empty compared with the national figure of 1.21 per cent, so this legislation gives members an opportunity to create leverage to bring empty properties back into use.”

The move has been made possible by changes to the Local Government Finance Act.