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Changes to empty property charges from 1 April 2018

The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings)(Scotland) Regulations 2013 provides discretion for the council to increase Council Tax by up to 100% for long term empty properties that have been unoccupied for more than 12 months, or 2 years where marketed for sale or rent.

You will be charged additional Council Tax if your property:

  • is not a holiday home, purpose built holiday home or job related accommodation – subject to specific conditions.
  • has been unoccupied for over 12 months and is not up for sale or rent
  • has been marketed for sale or rent and has been unoccupied for 2 years or more

From 1 April 2018 owners will pay 150% Council Tax for an empty property that is unoccupied for more than 12 months or up to 2 years if actively marketed for sale or rent. This will increase to 200% from 1 April 2019, however, the increase does NOT apply to Scottish Water charges for water and wastewater.

If your property has been unoccupied for more than 12 months, but less than 24 months, and is being marketed for sale or rent, you should complete and return a Council Tax Empty Property Levy Discount Application. The application details the proof that should be submitted with the form.

Can we help?

Whatever the reason your property has become empty - and whatever your intentions for the property - get in touch with us as there may be ways we can assist you in bringing it back into use. If you would like to find out more about bringing your property back into use, please contact the Empty Homes Officer by email - emptyhomes@south-ayrshire.gov.uk or by telephone on 01292 616014 for further information or advice.

Council Tax Levy - Frequently Asked Questions

My property is exempt will I have to pay the levy?

No. If your property is exempt and there is no change in its circumstances then you will continue to be exempt from the payment of Council Tax.

My property has just become unoccupied will I have to pay the levy?

It depends. If you have lived in your property for more than 3 months then the levy will not apply until the property has been unoccupied for 12 months or up to 2 years if marketed for sale or rent. If you have lived in the property for less than 3 months then the property is still considered unoccupied for this period and taken into account when calculating the 12 month empty period of a property and a levy may apply.

I have just bought a property that has been empty for more than 12 months. Do I have to pay the levy?

The empty period is calculated from the date the property was last occupied regardless of ownership. As a new owner you can apply for a 50% discount for 6 months followed by a 10% discount for 6 Months before the levy will apply.

I own a Second Home. Do I have to pay the levy?

If your property meets the Scottish Government's statutory definition of a Second Home i.e. it is a property which is furnished and is occupied for at least 25 days per year, you will not have to pay the levy but will no longer receive any discount from 1 April 2018. You may be asked to provide evidence that you occupy the property for the required number of days. If you do not occupy it at least 25 days per year, we will class it as a long term empty property and you will have to pay the levy.

I'm a landlord. What do I pay for periods in between tenants?

If you offer an unfurnished property for rent you will be entitled to 6 months exemption from the date the property was last occupied. A 10% discount will apply for the next 6 months. If your property is let furnished, you will be awarded a discount of 10% for a period of up to 12 months. Your discount will end and a levy applied once the property has been unoccupied for more than 12 months or up to 2 years if the property is actively being marketed for sale or rent.

My property has been unoccupied for over 5 years and I'm now marketing it for sale. Will I qualify for relief from the levy?

No. The levy is payable on all properties which have been unoccupied for more than 12 months. The unoccupied period starts on the last date of occupation. Relief is available for a further 12 months from the last date of occupation if the property is being actively marketed for let, or sale. As the property has been unoccupied for more than 2 years, you have no entitlement to relief from the levy.

My property has been unoccupied for less than a year. It is being marketed for sale / rent. Do I need to wait until it has been unoccupied for 1 year before I apply for relief from the levy?

No. If you are marketing your property for sale or rent within the first year of it becoming unoccupied you can apply for relief from the levy at any point. Once you provide the required proof, your Council Tax account will be updated to reflect a 10% discount if the property is still for sale or rent after the first 12 months. We will contact you during this period to confirm that the property continues to be marketed for sale or rent.

Do I need to apply for a new empty property reduction?

If you are receiving a discount or exemption we will automatically calculate your Council Tax liability. Your Council Tax bill will reflect this. If your house has become unoccupied, let us know immediately so that we can award any appropriate reduction.

I'm trying to sell my house and can't afford to pay this. What can I do?

If the property remains empty for more than 12 months and is being offered for sale, the levy will not be applied for up to a further 12 months if you can provide evidence that it is being actively marketed for sale. All other charges must be paid during this period. Whilst payments must be made within the current financial year we may be able to spread the payments throughout the year. Contact us for advice if you're having difficulties making these payments.

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