Legislation Passed on Council Tax & Second Homes
New powers enabling councils to charge up to double the full rate of council tax on second homes have been agreed by the Scottish Parliament.
Councils will be able to increase the charges from 1 April 2024, with rates for the first year being based on those from 2023-24.
The change brings second homes into line with council tax policy on long-term empty homes, and aims to increase housing availability by encouraging more homes to be used for living in.
New owners of properties that have previously been empty for more than twelve months will now have a six-month grace period, during which they will be protected from paying double the full council tax rate, with the potential for the six months to be extended by councils. This is subject to evidence that renovations or repairs are being undertaken by the owner with a view to the building being brought back into use.
A second home is classed as any home that is not used as someone’s primary residence but that is occupied for at least 25 days in a year.
Latest figures show that at the end of September 2022, there were 24,287 second homes in Scotland.
Second homes are currently subject to a default 50% discount on council tax. However, local councils can vary council tax charges and the majority already charge second home-owners the full of council tax, the maximum currently allowed.