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Council Tax Exemption for vacated student accommodation extended

Landlords in Scotland have been able to claim a Council Tax exemption for a period up-to 4 months after their student tenants vacated their property. This exemption is based on ‘The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) (Scotland) Order 1997. Now that exemption has been extended until at least 30-Sep-2020. This is thanks to the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020, which became law on 26-May-2020.

In very simple terms, students are exempted from paying Council Tax provided that in, very broad terms (certain criteria needs to be met) all the occupiers are students. When students vacate the property, in normal circumstances this exemption can be extended by up to 4 months if the property remains unoccupied. This exemption is normally widely used by landlords that cater for students, since the are likely to have the property empty for a few months in between academic years (June to August). Without this exemption landlords would be liable for Council Tax payments as soon as the students vacated the property.

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, university and college closed their doors to face-to-face activities in late March 2020, with no indication of when the normal activities would re-start. A vast number of students elected to give their landlords the stipulated 28-day notice, thus by the end of April 2020 there were a considerable large number of vacant student accommodation. In normal circumstances landlords would have been able to apply for the Council Tax exemption until August 2020. However at the time of writing this article (May 2020), there is no certainty on whether colleges and universities will go back to face-to-face activities in September 2020. To ease the pressure on landlords of empty properties (who will be suffering from lack of income anyway), the Scottish Government has extended the exemption for Council Tax for student accommodation until 30 September 2020, by passing the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020. There is a provision to extend some of the measures of this Act after September 2020 , and the feelings is that at least some of the measures will indeed be extended. But it will depend on how the Covid-19 lockdown and politics evolve between now and then.

If you have any queries about Covid-19 lockdown and how this could affect your property business in Aberdeen, please contact the office on 01224-636500.

For some bed-time reading, please use the links below to access the Acts in full

Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020

Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020

The Council Tax (Exempt Dwelling) Scotland Order 1997

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