Argyll and Bute councillors have approved a plan to charge a double council tax on second homes and empty properties.
The Scottish region wants to tackle the area’s housing emergency by using likely new Scottish government powers on council tax charges. This follows a recent consultation that included proposals allowing local authorities to increase charges from 1st April 2024. If approved by MSPs, it hopes this will encourage second homeowners in the area to either sell or rent their properties long term, to increase housing availability.
The council reports that the number of second homes in Argyll and Bute has increased from 3,045 in 2022/23 to 3,235 in 2023/24 with numbers expected to increase further this year. There are also around 1,300 long-term empty properties.
Council leader, councillor Robin Currie, says: “With the number of second homes on the rise in Argyll and Bute, this proposed change to council tax could have a significant impact on the housing emergency in our communities by encouraging owners of second homes to consider either selling or renting out their properties.
"A Joint Working Group on Council Tax and Local Government funding is currently reviewing all the feedback from the Scottish government’s consultation and assessing the potential implications, but our view is that this move would be a major factor in helping to tackle the area’s housing crisis.”
It’s estimated that about 25,000 second homeowners in Scotland could see their council tax bills double or more next year and is in addition to the new licensing system which came in last month that now applies to short-term Airbnb-style lets.
Photo: VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins