Coun­cil raise over £260k from tax

Empty homes charge proves to be a wind­fall

West Lothian Courier - - 11.10.2018 - Sean O’Neil

West Loth­ian Coun­cil has raised over £260,000 since it in­tro­duced the dou­ble coun­cil tax charge for empty homes in April.

As of Au­gust 31 the coun­cil has raised a to­tal of £262,471 from 245 prop­er­ties un­til the year end on March 31, 2019.

The dou­ble coun­cil tax charge for empty homes was in­tro­duced on April 1 in a bid to bring longterm unoc­cu­pied homes back into use.

Over the last year the num­ber of long term unoc­cu­pied prop­er­ties in West Loth­ian has re­duced by 42 per cent.

George Paul, ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor for ser­vices for the com­mu­nity, said: “There is a huge de­mand for homes in West Loth­ian, with cur­rently close to 8700 ap­pli­cants look­ing for so­cial hous­ing on the Com­mon Hous­ing Reg­is­ter.

“It’s vi­tal we look at ev­ery av­enue to in­crease the num­ber of homes avail­able, and we hope this move will en­cour­age those with empty homes to bring them back into use.“

A coun­cil spokesper­son added: “The in­crease in the Coun­cil Tax charge for long term unoc­cu­pied prop­er­ties is part of a holis­tic ap­proach to en­cour­age own­ers of empty prop­er­ties to bring them back in to use.

“So­cial and fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits in­clude in­creas­ing the sup­ply of hous­ing for those who need homes and re­duc­ing the im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties caused by houses be­ing left empty.”

Miles Briggs, Con­ser­va­tive MSP for Loth­ian, called the in­tro­duc­tion a “win win” sit­u­a­tion.

He said: “I thor­oughly ap­prove of West Loth­ian Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce dou­ble coun­cil tax for empty homes.

“The pol­icy is a win win, re­duc­ing the num­ber of empty homes and rais­ing much needed ad­di­tional rev­enue for the coun­cil.

“With the cur­rent lack of hous­ing avail­able in West Loth­ian, hav­ing houses ly­ing empty just doesn’t make any sense.

“I would ex­pect to see a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in homes left empty in West Loth­ian over the next few years.”

Own­ers of empty homes in West Loth­ian can ob­tain as­sis­tance, in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice from West Loth­ian Coun­cil to bring their prop­er­ties back into use, ei­ther for rent or sale.

Pos­si­ble op­tions in­clude rent­ing out your prop­erty through the coun­cil, which of­fers a guar­an­teed rental with no void rent loss pe­ri­ods for a min­i­mum 12 month pe­riod, or sell­ing your empty home to the coun­cil if it meets the cri­te­ria.

If a prop­erty is be­ing ac­tively mar­keted for sale or let, own­ers may be en­ti­tled to a re­duc­tion of 50 per cent for a pe­riod of up to 24 months from the date the prop­erty was last oc­cu­pied, as long as suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence can be pro­vided to show the prop­erty is be­ing ac­tively mar­keted.

COM­PE­TI­TION

Sup­port Cllr Paul backed the scheme

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