Second and empty homes council tax consultation

The Scottish Government want to understand how they can help councils make the best use of existing housing in their area, including managing the numbers of short-term lets, and second and long-term empty homes, where these are causing local housing issues.

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The consultation contains proposals which will formulate policy on local taxation and existing housing and what action is taken, with the Scottish Government stating it’s not about a one-size fits all solution but want to encourage more residential accommodation to be used as homes with long occupation.

Is the current non-domestic rates threshold for self-catering accommodation right, should it change, and should councils have additional powers giving them discretion to:

  • charge up to 100% premium (double the full rate) on council tax for second homes
  • charge more than 100% premium on council tax for second homes and long-term empty homes

Housing strategy

Scotland’s first national population strategy was published in 2021, which set out a vision focused on taking a place-based whole-system approach to drive local needs around the economy, infrastructure, public services and housing. At the same time, the Scottish Government published its Housing to 2040 Strategy with a bold vision of prioritising homes for living in, and not for accumulating wealth.

In order to deliver their vision, the Scottish Government is taking action to address population needs, including delivering a large affordable housing programme and taking policy action across a range of areas.

Self-Catering accommodation thresholds

The consultation proposes the use of council tax increases for second and long-term empty homes, as a tool that councils may decide to use to encourage homes to be used with higher occupancy.

Some second homeowners may choose to let their home out as self-catering accommodation for part of the year; therefore, it is appropriate to consider whether the thresholds for non-domestic accommodation are set at the right level.

No specific alternative thresholds have been proposed and further analysis would be undertaken if this type of reform were considered following the consultation.

Given the variation in second homes and self-catering accommodation numbers across council areas, should councils have the discretion to change the threshold locally to reflect local circumstances? In particular, whether they should have the power to increase or decrease the number of days of actual letting required for a property to be classed as self-catering holiday accommodation.

Propertymark campaigning

We encourage agents to respond to the consultation, and we also welcome any thoughts and comments from our members. Contact the Policy Team to provide input.

Respond to the council tax on second and empty homes/ non-domestic rates consultation  →