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Derby Council Tax Hike Reduces Empty House Numbers

Derby City Council has announced that a council tax hike has worked in reducing the number of empty homes in the city.

The number of properties in fiscal 2013 that incurred the 150 per cent rate hike, which is aimed at homes vacant for more than two years, was 468, but this is expected to fall to 327 next year as more people are put off leaving their property empty, reports the Derby Telegraph.

A spokesperson for the council said, "The fact that the number of properties is lower for 2014-15 than for 2013-14 would suggest that the approach is working, and more properties are being brought back into use."

However, not all residents are happy with Derby City Council's decision to penalise people with empty homes, including Roy Allen, 64, who argues the levy has been unfairly put on his son.

Mr Allen claims his son is living with his girlfriend in the loft of the house he owns, something that would make his presence invisible to neighbours.

The man, who lives near Belper, said the council's extra charges were infuriating, before adding that he is willing to go to court over the levies if they are not dropped in the coming weeks.

A statement from the council read: "If, after reviewing all the necessary evidence, we are satisfied that the property is not empty, we will of course revise the council tax charge for the property for 2014-15 and refund any overpayment for 2013-14."

But despite legal wrangling over Mr Allen's case, Derby City Council is adamant that its council tax levy is working.

The issue of empty homes has become a hot topic of debate in recent months because of the ongoing housing crisis across the country.

Recent statistics have shown that housebuilders should be constructing as many as 200,000 houses per year to keep up with demand, but critics claim that this is not happening and that low-income families are struggling to get their foot on the property ladder.

By Chris Stevenson