Double tax charge to be relaxed in Argyll and Bute

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Buildings under long-term repair in Argyll and Bute are in line for a reduction in council tax under proposals agreed by council chiefs.

The council’s policy and resources committee agreed to relax the rules on a double council tax charge on long-term empty properties.

An additional 10 per cent council tax discount will now be given to properties which are under repair for up to 24 months, as opposed to the previous time of 12 months.

The changes came about after two property owners in the area were unable to complete renovation work within 12 months and so were subject to standard charges.

A report for the committee’s meeting, by executive director of customer services Douglas Hendry, said: “In the first case the purchaser was converting a long-term empty property to bring it back into use. The property had not been lived in for 18 months and the renovation works were considerable.

“The second case involved a property where Historic Environment Scotland were involved in the planning and building control process. Planning permission was eventually granted after a period of around 18 months.

“Under both sets of circumstances a total of 24 months from the date of purchase before the double charge is levied would have been more appropriate given the positive intent of the purchasers to bring these long-term empty properties back into use. This also allows time for any lengthy planning and building control issues and for any extensive renovation works to be carried out.

“If the committee agree to amend the policy to grant an additional 12 months discount at 10 per cent in such unusual circumstances it would be a further positive move in applying the policy.”

It is estimated that the move will cost the council £3,000 in tax payments.

Members of the committee agreed the change as recommended.