COUNCILS will have the power to double council tax on second homes after new regulations were agreed in Holyrood.

The measures, which the Government says aim to “prioritise housing for living in” will bring second homes in line with council tax policy on long-term empty homes.

Council chiefs in Perth and Kinross have already approved plans in principle to increase the tax by 100% when the measures are introduced in April.

It is thought the council will generate around £2 million in 2024-25 as a result.

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The region has 1160 second homes, while Scotland had 24,287 at the end of September 2022, according to the most recent figures.

Second homes are currently subject to a default 50% discount on council tax.

However, councils can vary charges, with the majority already setting the full rate for second homeowners.

Protections have been put in place for owners of new properties that have previously been empty for more than 12 months.

They have been given a six-month grace period, with the potential for an extension, to “incentivise” homebuyers who need to complete renovations.

A home is classed as secondary if it is not used as a primary residence but is occupied for at least 25 days in a year.

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Local government leaders at Cosla previously backed the plans, which were a commitment in First Minister Humza Yousaf’s Programme for Government.

Public finance minister Tom Arthur welcomed the passing of the “important legislation”.

He said: “These changes to council tax were a commitment made in our Programme for Government and aim to make sure the tax system works as an incentive to prioritise homes for living in.

“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 are incentivising new ownership and giving them time to organise and undertake the work necessary to bring it back into use.”

Cosla’s resource spokeswoman Katie Hagmann said: “I am delighted that this very important legislation has now been given parliamentary approval.

“Cosla very much welcomes the ability for councils to take the decision to increase the premium on second homes in their areas.

“This supports our long-standing position that councillors who are closest to their communities should be empowered to take the decisions about what best works in their local communities.”