Scottish Empty Homes Partnership Written Evidence for Local Government (Unoccupied Premises etc) (Scotland) Bill
By: Shelter Scotland Published: April 2012
Written evidence from the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee on the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.) (Scotland) Bill.
• The bill itself is largely about setting a legislative vehicle for subsequent regulations which will articulate the main policy goals. The regulations are not yet available so much of our commentary is based on what the Bill’s policy memorandum sets out as the intention of regulations.
• It is important that the levy is seen as part of a package of measures councils can use to bring empty homes back into use that includes positive help and assistance to owners. At least some of the money raised through any levy charged should ideally be used to fund wider empty homes work.
• Allowing councils to remove the discount and charge a levy on long term empty homes and not second homes may result in the unwanted consequence of owners misrepresenting the true status of their properties.
• It is important that the period before the discount can be removed and a levy charged is set at 1 year as this allows a long enough period of incentive (in terms of council tax discounts and exemption periods) for owners to declare their properties as empty to their council.
• Rather than create subjective exemptions to the levy we believe it would be better to offer additional assistance to owners in exceptional circumstances.