Argyll and Bute councillors have approved proposals to tackle the area’s housing emergency by using new Scottish Government powers on Council Tax charges.
The move comes in response to a recent Scottish Government consultation that included a proposal that would enable local authorities to charge a double Council Tax on second homes and long-term empty properties.
The proposal suggests implementing the double Council Tax charge for second homes from 1 April 2024 – a move that would help mitigate the housing crisis in Argyll and Bute and encourage second homeowners in the area to either sell or rent their properties.
The number of second homes in Argyll and Bute has increased from 3,045 in 2022/23 to 3,235 in 2023/24 and a review of self-catering units in Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) is expected to further increase these numbers in the coming year.
There are also around 1,300 long-term empty properties in Argyll and Bute.
In Wales, local authorities have had the power to increase Council Tax on second homes by up to 300% since April 2023 and there are reports that the move has increased the number of properties on the market for sale.
Council Leader, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “With the number of second homes on the rise in Argyll and Bute, this proposed change to Council Tax could have a significant impact on the housing emergency in our communities by encouraging owners of second homes to consider either selling or renting out their properties.
“A Joint Working Group on Council Tax and Local Government funding is currently reviewing all the feedback from the Scottish Government’s consultation and assessing the potential implications, but our view is that this move would be a major factor in helping to tackle the area’s housing crisis.”