I have had a number of people talk to me about my recent blog “When is a Second Home Classed as a Second Home?” and the majority of them tend to agree with my views.  The problem with the UK government’s proposal is that it is aimed at cooling an over-heating London market however,  the changes to Stamp Duty have already slightly curtailed that market and, as we know, the majority of investors who are buying in London have extremely deep pockets and are therefore not particularly concerned about the extra charge.  The Scottish government’s driver is slightly different but I still think it misses a great opportunity.

I personally think that all properties should exclude sole or main residence especially for the first five years. My proposal would be a change to the Capital Gains rules which would mean that if you sell a property, there should be a tax on the capital gain that is made between purchase and sale.   I also think that there should be a tax imposed on second homes that are empty for more than a certain period of time.   I know for instance in London a number of the investors simply buy properties, leave them empty for a number of years and then sell them on, benefitting from the increase in price and making a big capital gain.  There should be a higher tax on the capital gain and there should also be a penalty for empty properties.

I would urge John Swinney to re-think his initial proposals which I genuinely think could have a devastating impact on the Scottish housing market.

As an aside, my review of 2015 and predictions for 2016 will follow in early January and I take this opportunity to wish all readers of the property blog a Merry Christmas and prosperous 2016.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property

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