Argyll and Bute to charge double council tax on empty homes

Argyll and Bute Council is to start charging double council tax on homes in the area which have been empty for more than two years.
Argyll and Bute Council is to start charging double council tax on homes in the area which have been empty for more than two years.

Argyll and Bute Council is to start charging double council tax on homes in the area which have been empty for more than two years.

The move, which will take effect from April 1, 2014, is part of the council’s efforts to increase access to affordabout housing.

The double charge will also apply to properties which have been empty for one year if they are not being actively marketed for sale or rent at appropriate terms.

In a news release on Tuesday the council stated it was announcing the policy now to give owners time to do something with empty properties before the new charges take effect.

All owners who may be affected will be contacted by the council, and will be given 21 days to provide accurate information - with the threat that failure to do so could result in a penalty of £500 on top of the council tax bill.

Owners with second homes which are used for at least 25 days a year will not be affected.

The authority’s lead councillor for housing, Councillor George Freeman, said: “Empty homes can have a very negative effect on local communities. They can adversely affect the quality of life for neighbours, make it harder for people to find affordable homes locally and reduces the numbers of active households benefitting the local economy.

“We would prefer to find ways of helping owners bring empty houses back into use rather than make additional charges. That is why we are letting people know in plenty of time so that they can take steps to deal with this now which may help them to avoid the extra charges.

“Where the new double council tax charge is applied, the council will set aside this income to benefit local areas.”

As of June 5, 2013, there were 1,470 properties in Argyll and Bute which were classed as ‘unoccupied’ and where the new charge could potentially apply – unless they are occupied before April 2014.

In addition, there are almost 1,000 more properties where the council has written to owners to check on their occupancy status, because council tax bills are sent to a different address.