A meeting of the Finance, Economy and Corporate Support Committee yesterday (Thursday, February 8) agreed to the move following recent legislation from the Scottish Parliament, which allows Councils to charge up to double the full rate of Council Tax on second properties.
Councillors also agreed to replace the existing Non Domestic Rates relief that apply to empty commercial and industrial properties in a move that could save Stirling Council around £940,000 next year.
It is hoped the decision to increase Council Tax on second homes will encourage owners to return them to the market and help meet the increasing demand for housing.
There are 303 second homes across the Stirling area, excluding purpose-built holiday homes, and it is estimated the move to increase Council Tax by 100% could also net up to £550,000 in additional income from 2024/25.
A second home is classed as any home that is not used as someone’s primary residence but that is occupied for at least 25 days in a year. However, purpose-built holiday homes or homes occupied for job-related purposes will not face an increase.
Convener of the Finance, Economy and Corporate Support Committee, Cllr Chris Kane, said: “We are aware of the challenges facing first time buyers and local people as they attempt to get on the housing ladder.
“We hope this move will encourage people with second homes to return them to the market. It is important that as many properties as possible across the Stirling area can be used as primary residences.
“Additional finances raised from this Council Tax increase on second homes will also be used to help close our budget gap and protect jobs and services across the Council.”
Councillors also agreed to replace the existing Non Domestic Rates relief that apply to empty commercial and industrial properties, also from 1 April 2024.
Currently, unoccupied properties qualify for a range of reliefs from Non Domestic Rates. This includes 100% relief for the first six months that industrial properties are unoccupied and 100% relief, with no limit of time, for unoccupied properties that are listed, or have a rateable value of under £1,700.
Under the new scheme, relief will be awarded for a maximum of one year, with 50% relief for the first three months after the rateable occupation ends and 10% for the subsequent nine months.
There are currently 428 empty commercial and industrial properties across the Stirling area, including 95 owned by Stirling Council.
Cllr Kane added: “Our changes to the award of empty property relief will hopefully encourage owners of such properties to bring them back into use.
“In particular, there has been no incentive for owners of properties that have been awarded unlimited rates relief to bring their properties back to life. Not only will this move result in a significant saving to the Council, it also has the potential to help improve the look of streets and communities across the Stirling area.”
All properties affected by the changes will be contacted directly by Stirling Council with more information ahead of their introduction.
The agenda papers for the meeting can be viewed here: Stirling Council - Agendas Index
A recording of the meeting can be viewed at: Home - Stirling Council streaming (public-i.tv)