Changes to Long Term Empty Properties and Second Homes

What are the changes?

From 1st April 2019 -

  • Long Term Empty Properties may be subject to a premium of 100% on the Council Tax charged i.e. the Council Tax is doubled
  • Second Homes will not receive a discount

What is a long term empty property?

For Council Tax purposes, it is a property which is no one’s sole or main residence, or a second home, that has been unoccupied for 1 year or more.

What is a second home?

For Council Tax purposes, it is a property which is no one’s sole or main residence that is furnished and lived in for at least 25 days per year.

Why have these changes been made?

To encourage property owners to bring their properties back into use and discourage properties being left empty for long periods of time.

What legislation allows the council to make these changes?

Section 2 of the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.) (Scotland) Act 2012  gives Council’s the authority to increase the Council Tax charge for unoccupied properties by up to 100% of the original charge.

Regulation 4 of the Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 allows for Council’s to vary the level of discount awarded, no longer award discount or increase the Council Tax for unoccupied properties.

The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2016 allows for Council’s to no longer award discount for second homes.

Are there circumstances when the premium will not apply?

The 200% charge will not be applied if one of the three following categories applies -
 

1. Properties with new owners & being brought back in to use

This category applies to unoccupied properties that have been continuously unoccupied for more than 1 year and have been bought by a new owner on or after 1st October 2018 who intend to bring the property back in to use.

The new owner must be able to demonstrate that they are progressing and finishing renovations prior to moving in to, letting, or selling the property.

The 200% charge will be applied once 1 year has passed since the transfer of ownership, even if the property is not ready to be occupied, let, or sold.
 

2. Properties Being Marketed for Sale

This category applies to unoccupied properties that have been continuously unoccupied for less than 2 years and are being actively marketed for sale.

The sale terms, conditions and price must be appropriate for the sale of the particular property, and the offer price must be one which will be accepted by the owner.

A 10% discount will be applied for properties actively marketed for sale that have been unoccupied for 1 year or more but no more than 2 years.

The 200% charge will be applied once the property has been unoccupied for 2 years, even if the property has not been sold and is still being marketed for sale.
 

3. Properties Being Marketed for Let

This category applies to unoccupied properties that have been continuously unoccupied for less than 2 years and are being actively marketed for let.

The terms, conditions and proposed rent must be appropriate for the let of the particular property, and the rental price must be one which is likely to lead to the creation of a tenancy.

A 10% discount will be applied for properties actively marketed for let that have been unoccupied for 1 year or more but no more than 2 years.

The 200% charge will be applied once the property has been unoccupied for 2 years, even if the property has not been let and is still being marketed for rent.

Can I Appeal?

Yes, if these changes effect the level of Council Tax you are charged you can appeal.

In the first instance appeals must be made in writing to the Revenues and Benefits Team and detail the grounds for the appeal. A senior member of the team will provide a written response within 10 working days of receipt.

If you do not receive a response within two months, or you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s response, then at that stage you can make an appeal to the Valuation Appeal Committee.

Appeals to the Valuation Appeal Committee must be made in writing through the Revenues and Benefits Team and within four months of the date of your initial appeal. The letter must state the grounds for the appeal, the date of your initial appeal and confirmation that you wish to appeal to the Valuation Appeal Committee. The Council will then contact the Secretary of the Valuation Appeal Committee to arrange a hearing.

Please note that -

• There is no right to withhold Council Tax payments even if an appeal has been submitted. Payments must continue to be made in accordance with the most recent bill received while the appeal is outstanding.

• The Valuation Appeal Committee does not have the authority to change the Council’s policy in relation to Council Tax charges for second homes and long term empty properties as these changes are in accordance with the Regulations.

Contact

If you would like more information on the above please email the Revenues and Benefits team or call us on 0141 578 8190.