Powers to increase council tax on second homes in Scotland come into force

New powers, which enable Scottish councils to charge up to double the full rate of council tax on second homes, came into force on Monday 1 April.

29 out of 32 local authorities have already confirmed that second homeowners will have to pay the higher charge in their areas. The three that will not are Falkirk, Glasgow City and North Ayrshire.

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.

The latest figures, which were published in December, show that there are over 24,000 second homes in Scotland.

The change is aimed at increasing housing availability by encouraging more homes to be used for living in.

The move follows joint work with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and a public consultation held in 2023.

Local Government Empowerment Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“We know there are housing pressures in parts of Scotland because of the prevalence of second homes. These new powers give flexibility to local councils, allowing them to charge the higher council tax rate on second homes if they wish and making sure they can prioritise homes for living in.

“The majority of people who responded to the public consultation last year supported these changes, which bring second homes into line with council tax policy on long-term empty homes.

“The changes demonstrate the value of the Verity House Agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA in putting policies in place that can better meet the needs of local communities across Scotland. They also deliver important parts of the Scottish Government’s ‘Housing to 2040’ strategy and Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Green Party.”

Councillor Katie Hagmann, COSLA’s Resources spokesperson, said:

“I am pleased that this important legislation is coming into force this week. COSLA welcomes the ability for councils to take the decision to increase the premium on second homes in their areas where appropriate.

“It supports the long-standing COSLA position that councillors who are closest to their communities should be empowered to take the decisions about what best works in their local communities, demonstrating the value of the Verity House Agreement.”

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