Housing reform

Second home owners face hike in council tax bill

Tom Arthur: prioritising housing

Owners of second homes will be charged double the standard rate of council tax from April under reforms laid before the Scottish parliament.

Second homes – those that are not a primary residence but are occupied for at least 25 days a year – qualify for a 50% reduction in council tax. There are believed to be more than 24,000 such homes in Scotland.

Under the proposed reforms, local authorities will be able to double the full rate for the 2024-25 financial year.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), the umbrella organisation for 32 councils, supports the change which aims to discourage second home ownership and increase the available housing stock for local people.

Tom Arthur, the public finance minister, said: “We want everyone in Scotland to have a home that meets their needs.

“We know second homes can sometimes benefit local communities but they can also restrict the availability of housing and increase costs for people who want to rent or buy.

“Subject to approval by parliament, this legislation aims to prioritise housing for living in by allowing local authorities to charge a council tax premium on second homes.

“Backed by a majority of respondents to our joint consultation with Cosla, it will enable councils to seek a fair contribution towards local services from second-home owners.”

Katie Hagmann, the Cosla resources spokeswoman, welcomed the potential for councils to increase the tax paid on second homes.

Allowing elected representatives closest to their communities to decide what suits local needs was aligned with the Verity House Agreement, the partnership deal agreed between Cosla and the Scottish government in June.

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