Council Tax premium on second homes

Portree, Skye
Susan Thomson

Draft regulations allowing local authorities to charge up to double the full rate of Council Tax on second homes have been laid before the Scottish Parliament.  

If approved, local authorities would be able to apply the Council Tax premium on homes that are not used as a main residence. High numbers of second homes in an area, which remain empty for long periods, negatively impact local services and community cohesion. Second home ownership reduces housing supply and inflates house prices to levels that are often unaffordable for local people. This leads to out-migration which is contributing to population decline experienced in many communities in rural and island Scotland. 

This change, a Programme for Government commitment, attracted majority support in a joint consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). It will bring second homes into line with long-term empty homes from 1 April 2024.

In the 2024-25 financial year, it will be based on rates from 2023-24.

Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur 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.”

COSLA Resources Spokesperson Councillor Katie Hagmann said: 

“Subject to Parliamentary approval, COSLA very much welcomes the ability for councils to take the decision to increase the premium on second homes in their areas. Allowing the politicians who are closest to their communities to take decisions about what best suits local needs and circumstances is well aligned to the Verity House Agreement.”  

More info here