As part of its response to the local Housing Emergency the Council has decided to use new powers conferred to it by The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2023 No. 389 which comes into effect from 1st April 2024 to increase the Council Tax levied on second homes by 100% as confirmed in the Council's press release on 23 November 2023 A Second Home is defined in The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 as “a dwelling which is no one’s sole or main residence, but which is furnished and in respect of which, during any period of 12 months, the person who is liable to pay the Council Tax can produce evidence to establish that it is lived in other than as a sole or main residence for 25 days or more during that period”. If your property was not lived in for at least 25 days in the last 12 months, then it must be classified as an unoccupied property rather than as a second home as per the 2013 regulations. The type of documentation that the Council may ask you to provide as evidence to ensure your Second Home status is correct is as follows:- Approximate list of dates the property had been occupied / visited and one of the following: Utility bills with usage – electric, gas, oil receipts for oil tank Home Insurance documentation Broadband/Telephone bills Ferry Tickets (island homes) Airline Tickets (international 2nd home owners) The decision to increase Council Tax on second homes across Argyll and Bute has been made because of a number of key considerations including the need to; create more affordable housing, to drive down house prices by increasing the local supply of housing, promote homeownership, boost local rental markets to create more vibrant and sustainable communities, and to generate revenue to help the support vital front line services Statistics show that more than 6.2% of domestic dwellings in our area are second homes. This is proportionately the largest of any local authority area in Scotland above Western Isles at 5.9%, Orkney Islands at 4.8%, Highland at 3.0% and well above the Scottish average of 0.9% as per statistics in table 1 of the Scottish Government’s regulatory impact assessment report. Frequently asked questions What if I don’t meet the 25 day rule for my second home? Your property will then be classed as an unoccupied property rather than a second home. If I meet the 25 day rule – do I still have to pay the double charge? Yes, if your property is classed as a Second Home then it will attract the double charge. What if there is not a housing shortage in my area? Although there may not currently be a housing shortage in your area, the Council has declared a Housing Emergency for the entire region due to nearly 300 households, including children, in temporary accommodation. To address this, a unified policy has been implemented to encourage property owners to bring vacant units back into use, benefiting the economy of Argyll and Bute. The Council will employ an agile test-and-learn approach, regularly reviewing progress to ensure effective solutions are implemented. Why do I have to keep evidence to prove that it’s a second home? As per Council Tax legislation - Regulation 2 of The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 - the Scottish Government have requested that customers should be able to provide evidence to show that their property is lived in/occupied for 25 days or more What if I want to make my second home my main place of residence? If you decide to make your property in our area your main place of residence then we will require evidence to support the move. Checks to confirm this change include information such as:- Electoral roll checks; What address your financial/credit information is linked too; Liaise with your previous council regarding your property within their area. What options are available to me? You may wish to make your property available to the long term rental market and allow a tenant to use it as their sole/main residence You may wish to put your property up for sale There is information on our website on how you can bring your property back into use as privately rented housing - Private Landlord Advice For specific advice and assistance on the options to bring your property back into use as a permanent residence, please contact our Housing Services team. They will be able to provide advice on how to become a registered landlord; options for selling property; and help match your property to any local identified emergency housing cases. In the first instance, please contact us by email on: Localhousingstrategy@argyll-bute.gov.uk or alternately 01369 708672.