Council tax: new student exemption

Many members have student properties unexpectedly empty as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

SAL has been lobbying MSPs for a change to council tax legislation to exempt all empty rental properties from council tax during the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately, the Parliament did not support this however, interestingly the Minister for Public Finance and Migration has written to all council leaders in Scotland encouraging local authorities to use existing powers to defer the payment of council tax where a property is unoccupied due to the impact of the pandemic, and the property owner is struggling to meet their council tax liability. Such deferred council tax can then be paid once a property owner’s financial circumstances have improved, such as when the property in question is let or sold.

SAL is however pleased to report that MSPs did approve a change which exempts properties previously occupied by students from council tax for the duration of the legislation being in force. This exemption applies to properties which became unoccupied on or after 17 March 2020. The exemption is in place until 31 March 2021.