Property Owners Urged to Avoid Double Council Tax

by Melissa Clark

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Jackie Moore Owners of second homes in the Argyll and Bute area are being urged to put their properties up for lease to avoid being hit by new rules doubling council tax rates.

Argyll and Bute council implemented the new council tax rules in April this year, increasing the rate for unoccupied homes by 100% – the maximum granted by the Scottish Government.

Property experts, Bell Ingram, based in Oban, believe leasing is the most obvious solution and are encouraging people who own second homes to explore the profitable alternative.

The new rules apply to any property that has been ‘unoccupied’ for a period of two years or more.  Rather than qualifying for a discount these properties are now subject to double the standard rate.  ‘Unoccupied’ is defined as “used for less than 25 days in any rolling 12 month period”.  Properties which have been unoccupied for less than two years, but more than one year, will also be subject to the double council tax unless they are actively marketed for sale or let.

Jackie Moore, Residential Lettings Manager at Bell Ingram, says leasing properties not only makes financial sense, it’s good for the area.

She said: “These new rules really give owners food for thought on what they should do with second properties and leasing seems the obvious choice.

“Instead of their money being sunk into council tax they can get someone into their home and make a profit from their unused asset.

“Letting these properties will not only help financially, but it will also drum up business in and around Oban, encourage more people to move to the area and help with the housing shortage.”

Exemptions are still made under these new rules where a number of circumstances such as forced moves through disability or necessary renovations allow owners to avoid paying increased council tax.

Jackie added: “We’ve had a number of enquiries since the council announced the new rules back in August 2013 and there has been a ramp up in activity since April.

“If local residents have any questions regarding their unoccupied properties, I would encourage them to get in touch.”

The Scottish Government gave local authorities discretionary powers to charge up to 100% more for unoccupied properties from April 2013.

Councils in Scotland have announced various scrapping of discounts and increased charges with Argyll & Bute and Fife among the strictest implementing the full 100% increase this year.

Established in 1899, Bell Ingram is a multi-disciplined firm of chartered surveyors, forestry managers, estate agents, architects, building surveyors and energy specialists. With more than 130 professional staff across 11 UK offices the firm provides local knowledge with national coverage.

 

Melissa Clark

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