A MAN who has spent more than two years renovating his home has hit out at a new council policy that could see his council tax payments increased by half.
Adam Mortimer has been informed by Darlington Borough Council that because his property has been empty for more than two years, a 50 per cent premium will be added to his standard council tax from April.
The charge is part of a new council policy that aims to force landlords to bring empty properties around the town back into use by charging extra council tax on empty properties.
Mr Mortimer, 27, said the charge is unfair and that the extra £50 a month he will have to pay while the house remains empty will hit his chances of saving enough money to finish it off and move in.
Mr Mortimer bought the near derelict property in Darlington two years ago and has worked to bring it up to a living standard, using the money he can save while working at an Argos distribution centre.
The property is still lacking a bathroom, which means Mr Mortimer lives with his mother, Elaine, while he saves up to do the work.
He said: “It’s a lot of money each month to be paying out. It cuts into what I’m trying to save up to put into the place, it’s making it even harder.”
Elaine Mortimer also hit out at the council for putting the extra premium on a ‘hard-working young man’ who had saved to get a foot on the property ladder.
She added: “He’s happy to pay his bills but he’s been floored by this. Why should people like him be penalised when there are so many people in this town that don’t pay their council tax and yet they are hounding him for an extra 50 per cent on top of what he already pays.”
A council spokeswoman said: "Following consultation, the council has agreed, from April, to introduce an empty property premium of up to 50 per cent of the council tax charged on a property which has been empty for more than two years.
"We wrote to Mr Mortimer advising him that from April 2013 he will be liable to pay 150 per cent of the council tax on his dwelling as it has been empty for more than two years.”