Scots plan to charge extra for empty homes

Scottish local authorities would be able to charge up to twice the usual rate of council tax on properties that have lain empty for more than six months and use the money to build affordable homes under proposals unveiled by the country's housing minister.

Under the plans put forward by Alex Neil, councils would also be required to demand that home owners pay council tax in full after their properties have been empty for more than six months.

At present, owners pay no council tax for the first six months that their property is left empty. After six months, they start paying council tax, but at a discount of ten to 50 per cent, depending on the policies of the local authority.

Neil said that, if all local authorities decided to use the proposed powers to charge twice the standard rate of council tax on empty homes, it could bring in an additional £30 million each year, which he said would be used for the construction of affordable homes.

Neil said: "Although the public purse is under huge strain, the Scottish government is doing all it can to increase the supply of affordable housing across the country. One way to do this is to tackle the problem of empty homes, which are a wasted resource and are often also a blight on local communities as they attract vandalism."

A consultation on the proposals runs until 10 January.

Council Tax on Long-Term Empty Properties and the Housing Support Grant can be viewed via Planning

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