Housing Options Guide-4b

Empty homes

Homes become empty for many reasons.  It could be because the property is difficult to let or sell, or because the owner needs assistance to bring it up to standard. Empty homes are at a higher risk of vandalism, crime and damage from the weather.  The longer it is empty the less valuable it becomes and this can have an effect on neighbouring properties and neighbourhoods in general.  In August 2013 there were approximately 23,000 long term private sector empty homes in Scotland.

Report an empty home

The National Empty Homes helpline was launched by Shelter (Scotland) 16 June 2015.  

Members of the public will be able to report empty homes in their communities and contribute to bringing them back into use using the free national helpline : 0344 515 1941.

More details can be found  at Shelter Scotland (web)

Find out more about the Empty Homes Advice Service (web)

Advice for the owner of an empty home

Both Shelter Scotland and the Empty Homes Agency estimate that an empty property can cost the owner over £7,000.  By bringing your home back into use you could potentially increase your income by selling or renting the property, increase the value of your property and reduce the risk of vandalism and disrepair.
If you own an empty home and you need advice on improving your property’s condition, you can find further information in section 3 or by clicking here. You can also get advice and assistance on what you can do to bring your property back into use. 

Shelter Scotland (web) has some useful tips  for further information on what you could do with your property

The Scottish Government also has information on empty homes (web)on their website.

Tax incentives

When you carry out work on an existing building, Value Added Tax (VAT) is usually charged at the standard rate of 20%.  However in some circumstances, when renovating residential properties which have been empty for at least two years, you may qualify for a reduced rate on certain types of work needed to bring it back into use as a dwelling.  

More information is available online from HM Revenue and Customs.(web)

Council Tax charges on long-term empty homes

On the 1 April 2014 the Scottish Government introduced legislation as part of its strategy to encourage owners of long-term empty properties to return them back to use.  The legislation also introduced a revised definition of a second home.  For a property to be considered a second home, it must be furnished and the Council Tax payer must now prove to the local authority that it is occupied for at least 25 days per year.  If this cannot be proven, the property will be treated as a long-term empty property and may become liable for any additional charges which are levied on that class of property.  From 1 April 2014 Moray Council will charge the full 100% Council Tax (levy) charge for any property unoccupied for more than 12 months.

Revised Relief from 01 April 2016

The council recently increased the relief it makes available to those due to pay the Council Tax levy. 

Full details, how to claim for relief, FAQs and policy changes on the Council Tax Levy main page.

Further information on council tax charges click here.

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