Legislation has been passed in Scotland which will allow local authorities to charge up to double council tax rates on second homes.
The new powers were approved by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
The change – a program of government engagement – will bring the tax rules on holiday homes in line with long-term empty homes from April 2024.
The Scottish Government hopes the move will increase the availability of housing by encouraging more homes to be used for live-in.
New owners of properties that have previously been empty for more than a year are given a six-month grace period – with the possibility of extension by the municipal council.
This will be subject to documentation that renovations or repairs are being carried out by the owner with a view to bringing the building back into use.
Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur said: “A majority of those who responded to our consultation earlier this year supported councils being able to charge a council tax premium on top of regular rates for second homes.
“By protecting those renovating an empty home from paying the empty home premium, we encourage new ownership and give them time to organize and carry out the necessary work to bring it back into use.”
A second home is classified as any home that is not used as a person’s primary residence but is occupied for at least 25 days in a year.
Latest figures show that at the end of September 2022 there were 24,287 holiday homes in Scotland.
Duck homes are currently subject to a standard 50% discount on council tax.
However, local authorities have the power to vary the premium and the majority charge second home owners the full rate.
In the financial year 2024-25, the premium will be based on rates from 2023-24.
In October first minister Humza Yousaf announced a council tax freeze that would keep rates at current levels when local authorities set their budgets for 2024-25.
The new rules are part of a joint plan with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).
Councilor Katie Hagmann, COSLA’s resource spokesperson, said: “COSLA is very pleased that councils can take the decision to increase the holiday home premium in their areas.
“This supports our long-standing position that councilors who are closest to their communities should be empowered to make decisions about what works best in their communities, demonstrating the value of the Verity House deal.”