The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee yesterday approved powers that could hit owners with an annual surcharge of up to £2500.
Councils including Edinburgh, East Lothian, West Lothian and Midlothian will be given the option of charging up to 100 per cent more tax on unoccupied properties.
The extra charge will not apply to second homes.
Scottish Conservative local government spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell MSP said: “Rent is the meat on the bone of the property owner’s business, so to suggest the majority of owners are wilfully keeping their houses empty is nonsense.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the regulations were designed to encourage homeowners to bring neglected or abandoned homes back into use.