Caerphilly Council should charge owners of homes empty for more than a year a 50% surcharge on council tax rates, according to the leader of the Plaid Cymru group .
Councillor Colin Mann made the appeal after a response under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that 1380 homes had been empty for more than 6 months.
This includes 272 homes empty for more than five years and 102 homes empty for more than a decade.
Councillor Colin Mann said: “Unfortunately, the council has been slow to tackle the issue of empty homes at a time when there are thousands on waiting lists in the borough. In Cardiff, a much larger authority, there were 1355 long term vacant homes – less than in Caerphilly borough.
“While the establishment of a team to deal with the problem is welcome it is also long overdue. I want to see Labour leaders getting a lot tougher with those who just leave their homes empty, often to rot, often causing huge problems for neighbouring properties.
“Caerphilly should look at following their Labour counterparts in Cardiff who charge owners of unfurnished properties which have been empty for longer than 12 months a premium rate of council tax at 150% of the assessed band.
“Bringing these empty homes back into use would also greatly ease the pressure for so many new build properties. Much more money could be invested into retrofitting these and other properties to make them more energy-efficient.”
Peredur Owen Griffiths, Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales East, said: “It is disappointing that so few dormant homes have been brought back into use by the Labour-controlled local authority. In the last 12 months just five homes were brought back into use following the intervention of the authority.
“More than 100 homes have been empty for a decade or longer in the county borough. Many of these homes will have deteriorated significantly while the council adopted a light-touch approach.
“During my weekly street surgeries, I have come across people in Caerphilly county borough who are on the housing waiting list.
“Some are absolutely desperate to move and will no doubt be angry and frustrated when they found out how little the council has done to bring empty properties back into use.”
Peredur added: “I’m pleased that the council have finally set up a team to look into the problem of long-term empty properties as they have been a blight on our communities for too long now.
“While this move is a welcome one in order to tackle the long housing waiting lists and the corrosive effect empty properties have on our communities, this should have happened a long time ago.”