OWNERS of domestic properties left unoccupied for more than 12 months will see their council tax double over two years.
On Wednesday members of the policy and resources committee agreed to exercise new powers to discourages homeowners to allow their houses to lie vacant long term.
At the moment properties that have been empty for more than a year are eligible for a 10% council tax discount.
From April next year, not only will owners lose that discount, they will have to pay an additional 50% on their council tax bill.
And from April 2015 the levy will rise to 100%.
The move will increase income from council tax by an estimated £386,000 next year and by £709,000 in 2015-16.
Earlier this year legislation came into force allowing Scottish local authorities to levy an additional council tax charge on long-term empty properties and to reduce or remove any discount.
One of the key objectives of the legislation is to encourage owners to bring the properties back into use for habitation and to ease a shortage in available housing.
The decision makes Moray one of the first council’s to exercise the new power.
According to the latest figures there are around 660 domestic properties in Moray that have been unoccupied for at least 12 months.
Figures based on a Band D owner whose property has been empty for over a year is currently charged £1,135 in council tax, minus the 10% discount, leaving £1,019 to pay.
From next April, with the loss of the discount entitlement and the 50% levy, the owner will pay £1,702 and, from April 2015 £2,270.