EMPTY homes in the North East have left councils out of pocket by £30.4million each year, new figures show.
Cash is lost from landlords who are given generous council tax discounts if properties are vacant for a long period or are undergoing major improvements.
The biggest loss was in County Durham, with £7.83million. Sunderland is in third place with £2.56million, after Gateshead at £3.45million.
Ministers have suggested the introduction of an empty homes premium which would also allow councils to double the amount of council tax on any houses which are left empty for any long period.