Council Tax set to double for second homes

The Scottish Government has put proposals before Holyrood which would give local councils the discretion to charge Council Tax premiums of up to 100% on second homes, bringing them in line with long-term empty properties. If approved, the new measures could come into force by April 2024.

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Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur stated that the legislation is designed to encourage more housing to be used as homes to live in, as well as being a Programme for Government 2023 commitment.

Scotland has over 24,000 second homes – defined for Council Tax purposes as being nobody’s main residence but occupied for at least 25 days a year. Whilst there is a balance to be struck with the benefits of tourism to local economies, second homes have an impact on the availability of housing and can push up prices for people looking to buy or rent. This is particularly apparent in rural areas such as the Highlands, where in 2022 second homes made up over 3% of the total housing stock.  

The Scottish Government’s Housing to 2040 strategy includes an ambition to bring empty homes back into use, and giving councils greater flexibility for local decision making is intended to enable them to make better use of existing stock to address the housing needs of their communities.

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25 Jul 2023
Raising council tax premiums for empty homes would be ineffective

Responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the increasing council tax premiums for second and empty homes, Propertymark’s members are strongly against this approach, especially for second homes, and it is recommended homeowners should be incentivised to bring empty homes back into use.

Propertymark campaigns

Our lobbying helped lead to the Welsh Government's announcement of a National Empty Homes Grant scheme in January 2023, which provides grants for people to renovate empty homes and bring them back into use.

We have also continuously campaigned alongside Action on Empty Homes to help create awareness around the issue of empty houses in the UK. It is estimated there are 200,000 unused properties across the UK which could re-enter the market as much needed homes.