Aberdeenshire Council offers year’s grace to empty home owners
Owners of empty properties in Aberdeenshire are to be given up to a year before an additional council tax fee is applied, as part of an effort to bring homes back into use more quickly.
Since April this year, certain unoccupied properties have been subject to an additional 100 per cent council tax charge, to discourage owners from keeping them empty in the long term and to help increase the supply of housing.
Following concerns from some property owners across Scotland, the Scottish Government allowed councils to use discretion in applying the extra charge.
Discussing this discretion, Aberdeenshire Council agreed that the additional charge should not be applied for up to a year in a number of situations.
The move aims to help those renovating properties, or struggling to sell or let their accommodation. It will also help owners struggling to meet occupancy criteria for a second home, or where a break from the extra charge may help the property to be brought back into use sooner.
Cllr Martin Kitts-Hayes, chair of the policy and resources committee, said: “We have listened to the concerns of people who have been affected by the levy of council tax on empty properties, who feel they are being unfairly penalised when they are doing all they can to bring properties back into use.”
Committee vice-chair, Cllr Richard Thomson, added: “We hope this decision will provide the flexibility needed by a number of properties owners that will in turn bring more homes back into use locally.”
A report before councillors highlighted that 46 cases have been identified so far that would be eligible for the fee delay.