Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Wednesday, 2 May 2012 12:41 UK

Finance Committee

Anita Bain from Angus Council told the Finance Committee there was not enough information on empty properties nor enough support for owners of empty properties, when giving evidence on the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.)(Scotland) Bill .

The legislation will amend the law regarding non-domestic rates and council tax in respect of unoccupied properties.

It also repeals provisions that allow grants to be made to local authorities in order to allow them to balance their housing revenue account.

Landlords who allow their houses to lie empty face paying double the amount of council tax, under the proposed new laws.

The measure is being introduced at Holyrood in a bid to tackle a shortage of housing.

It will allow local councils to charge extra tax on properties which have lain empty for more than a year.

Ms Bain said that for her area of Angus the legislation was like "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut" and it could just drive people into debt as they may not have the means to renovate there property.

She also highlighted the problems of collecting the additional levy pointing out many owners may not reside in the UK.

Brian Cook from North Lanarkshire Council said the bill could "lead to a tendancy to misrepresent the occupation of properties".

James Gray and Anita Jamieson from Shetland Islands Council gave evidence from Shetland via video link.

Anita Jamieson from Shetland Islands Council called for "satisfactory transitional arrangements" to be put in place for the cessation of the Housing Support Grant, highlighting Shetland's historical housing debt from the 1970s and calling for the 1,800 tenants not to be penalised.

MSPs then quizzed Sam Baker, Jamie Hamilton, Marianne Cook, and Stuart Law from the Scottish government.

Sam Baker told the committee the Scottish government "feels change is needed to seek to bring empty properties back into economic use and increase revenue".

MSPs raised concerns about the consultation that had been carried out and many assumptions in the financial memorandum during the session.

Finance Committee membership


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