Homes left empty for year face doubling of tax bills

HOMEowners in Edinburgh and the Lothians who leave their properties empty for more than a year could see their council tax bills double.

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.

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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.