FREMANTLE landlords who get tenants into long-empty buildings could be rewarded with zero rates for a year.
Fremantle council is currently looking into whether it can charge landlords double rates for buildings left empty for more than 12 months.
Mayor Brad Pettitt, who’s stuck in the Cocos Islands due to bad weather, says that’s the “stick option” for landlords who set their rentals so high that no business can afford them.
He now wants to look into a carrot for landlords who do the right thing by offering either half-rates or zero rates for a year.
Dr Pettitt says the council’s getting legal advice on whether it can charge differential rates, and expects an answer in a couple of weeks.
Currently the city charges the long-vacant and decrepit Woolstores double rates but only on the basis it’s uninhabitable.
Local government minister John Castrilli says under the local government act, rates for habitable building must be consistent within a zoning “which would mean all shops within that zoning—both open and closed—would be affected”.
However the double rates plan could still legally apply to vacant land like the long-empty site opposite the hospital.
The idea’s catching on, with Vincent city councillor John Carey exploring higher rates to penalise landlords who leave buildings vacant too long. When asked if his council would consider rate exemptions for compliant landlords, Cr Carey said “we’re not that desperate”.
by DAVID BELL