THE owners of domestic properties left unoccupied for more than a year in Moray will see their council tax double within the next two years, it was announced today.
Moray councillors have agreed to exercise new powers to discourage owners from allowing their homes to lie vacant in the long term.
Properties which are empty for more than 12 months are currently eligible for a 10 per cent council tax discount. But from April next year, owners will not only lose that discount but will have to pay an additional 50 per cent on their council tax bill, and from April 2015 the levy will rise to 100 per cent.
For example, a Band D owner whose property has been empty for over a year is currently charged £1135 in council tax, minus the 10 per cent discount, leaving £1019 to pay. From next April, with the loss of the discount entitlement and the 50 per cent levy, the owner will pay £1702. From April 2015, the charge will be £2270 a year.
A council spokesman said: “The move will increase income from council tax by an estimated £386,000 next year and by £709,000 in 2015-16.
“Legislation came into force earlier this year allowing Scottish local authorities to levy an additional council tax charge on long-term empty properties and to reduce or remove any discount currently applied to vacant properties.
“One of the key objectives of the legislation is to encourage owners to bring the properties back into use for habitation and to ease a shortage in available housing.”
He added: “Today’s decision by the policy and resources committee makes Moray one of the first councils to exercise the discretion to impose a levy on vacant homes. According to the latest figures there are around 660 domestic properties in Moray which have been unoccupied or at least 12 months.”