Bid to tackle long-term empty homes in West Lothian

West Lothian Council is to remove a council tax discount currently afforded to owners of long-term unoccupied properties as it takes steps to bring vacant homes back into use.

The council is writing to around 300 homeowners whose properties are currently classed as long-term unoccupied, as they have been empty for a continuous period of 12 months or more.

From 1 April 2018, their current 10% Council Tax reduction will be removed and Council Tax will be twice the full charge for the valuation band the property is in.

The council is also offering support to owners of long-term unoccupied homes to bring their properties back into working use.

Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul, said: “There is a huge demand for homes in West Lothian, with currently close to 8,700 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.”

If the property is being actively marketed for sale or let, owners may be entitled to a reduction of 50% 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.

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