Second homes and empty homes (unoccupied dwellings) are currently defined in the Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 as follows:
- a "second home" is a dwelling which is no one's sole or main residence but which is furnished and lived in for at least 25 days during the chargeable 12 month period
- an "unoccupied dwelling" is a dwelling, which is no one's sole or main residence but which is not used as a second home.
In this consultation paper, short-term lets is a wide term used to refer to the whole or part of accommodation provided to one or more guests on a commercial basis that does not become the main residence of the guest/s. There are different types of short-term lets such as self-catering accommodation, B&Bs, guest houses, home letting and home sharing. What local taxation short-term lets are liable for will vary depending on the type of short-term let and applicable taxation rules.
For example, if a second home is used as self-catering accommodation it will be liable for non-domestic rates if the premises is:
a) not the sole or main residence of any person; and
b) being made available for letting, on a commercial basis and with a view to the making of profit, for 140 days or more in the financial year, and have in practice been let in the financial year for a total of 70 days
If the self-catering accommodation does not meet the above criteria and thresholds it is liable for council tax instead.
B&Bs and guest houses may be liable for non-domestic rates if their operation has capacity to cater for more than 6 people at any one time, regardless of how many days the premises or rooms are available or actually let.
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