COUNCIL tax discounts on empty houses across Kirklees could be scrapped.
The leader of Kirklees Council, Clr Kath Pinnock, wants to hear from local people whether they would back a move to end the 50% discounts.
The plan would mean heftier bills for people who own empty houses or second "holiday" homes in the district.
There are an estimated 4,000 empty houses in Kirklees which would attract higher bills.
Up to now councils have had to apply the discounts by law. But changes in legislation have given councils discretion whether to remove or reduce the discounts received by the owners of such properties.
Under the current system, owners of uninhabitable empty properties pay no council tax for 12 months and then get a 50% discount after that. For empty unfurnished properties that are habitable they pay no council tax for six months and then the 50% discount applies. Owners of a second home - holiday cottages for example - get a 50% discount on their council tax bills.
The new rules give councils discretion on whether to charge up to the full council tax on empty properties after the six or 12-month period. In addition, the discount on second homes could reduce to 10%, which would mean that people with second homes would pay up to 90% of the council tax charge.
Clr Pinnock said: "To remove or reduce the discounts would be a fundamental change of policy, which is why we want to know whether people think it is a good idea or not.
"Up to now councils have had to give the discounts, but in future they will have a choice whether to give them or not.
"To remove or reduce the discounts should encourage people sitting on empty properties to bring them back into the housing market, and in the case of uninhabitable houses to restore them to habitable standards and get people living in them.
"That would make some contribution to meeting increasing housing needs in the district.
"A change in policy would also bring in extra money to the council to contribute towards paying for services."
People are being urged to make their comments and views known within days, as the council draws up its annual budget on March 3.
People can write to Clr Pinnock with their views. Letters should be sent to Clr Kath Pinnock, Leader of the Council, Members' Services, Crown Court Building, Princess Street, Huddersfield HD1 2TT.
Alternatively, she can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org