Properties that have been left empty for at least two years will be subject to an increased council tax premium to encourage their reuse.

Cllr Adam Swersky, who is responsible for finance at Harrow Council, explained that the rates will be pushed up across the borough by up to 300 per cent.

According to a report presented to the council’s cabinet last month, this will affect 61 households and will generate around an extra £60,000-a-year.

Cllr Swersky said: “This will discourage owners from keeping their properties empty and will raise additional income for the council’s coffers.”

He explained that the initial point is particularly important at a time when there is a need for more housing in Harrow.

The cabinet report noted that there are 79 properties in the borough that have been empty for at least two years, while an additional six will have been by April 1. There are also 554 homes that have been empty for at least six months.

The council has encouraged owners to demonstrate that their properties are on the market for sale or rent, which could grant them exemption from the premium.

The report said: “These properties can be seen as a wasted resource when there is homelessness in the borough and can, in some cases, lead to properties becoming poorly-maintained impacting on not just the empty property itself, but also adjoining properties.”

Additional charges will be calculated based on the number of years each property has been empty, and they could be hiked up further at the turn of each financial year up to 2021/22.

The decision was backed by the Greater London Authority, which said the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is “committed to tackling London’s housing crisis”.