Changes to Council Tax – empty homes and second homes

Members briefing 426: Changes to Council Tax – empty homes and second homes

 There is a significant housing shortage in Edinburgh. We’re committed to reducing the number of empty homes, helping to ensure we are making the best use of housing resources. Empty homes can also increase the amount of antisocial behaviour and vandalism in an area, as well as decrease the value of surrounding properties.

 Since April 2013 the Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Act has given councils the option to reduce, increase or maintain discounts of between 10% and 50% on second homes and long term empty properties. It also gives councils the powers to discount or increase charges on properties that have been empty for 12 or more months.

 On 21 March 2013 the Council’s Finance and Budget Committee agreed to adopt a new policy, intended to reduce the number of empty homes in the city and encourage owners of empty homes to put them back into use.

The new policy includes an increase in Council Tax discount from 10% to 50% for owners as an incentive if they actively market their empty properties for sale/let. The policy also includes increasing the Council Tax due on long term empty homes by applying a 100% surcharge if they have been empty for 12 or more months or 24 months if they are on the market for sale/let.

 These changes will be introduced from 1 January 2014.

There are approximately 2500 properties that will be affected by this increased Council Tax charge.

A letter was sent to each owner on 1 October 2013. This  provides the customer with three months notice about the changes and the opportunity to speak with us about any questions they may have regarding the classification of their property.

We have been training staff in our Contact Centre to provide advice and support to property owners, as well as briefing staff in our neighbourhood offices. Third parties, including local Citizens Advice Bureau will also be notified. A letter to local MPs and MSPs advising them of the changes will also be sent out.

From 1 October detailed information about these changes will be available from our website at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/emptyhomes .

Further information

Should your constituents have any questions, please ask them to call our Contact Centre on 0131 469 5000 or to email us at revenuesbenefits@edinburgh.gov.uk. Over the last few weeks staff at the Contact Centre have received training about these changes to ensure they can

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