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Household Estimates: a data cube spreadsheet

Number and percentage of total dwellings that are occupied, vacant, unoccupied and exempt from paying council tax, long-term empty, second homes, are occupied and exempt from paying council tax, and that are receiving Single Adult Council Tax discount. An 'occupied dwelling' is roughly equivalent to a household.

Ratio (Percent Of Dwellings) for values of Indicator (dwellings)
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Reference Area Which Are Long-term empty Which Are Occupied Which Are Second Homes Which Are Vacant With 'Occupied Exemptions' With 'Unoccupied Exemptions' With Single Adult Discounts
Scotland 1 95.8 1.4 2.8 2.5 1.8 37.8
Council Areas
Aberdeen City 0.9 96.1 1.7 2.2 6.4 1.3 41
Aberdeenshire 1.5 95.7 1.2 3.1 0.8 1.6 29.1
Angus 2.5 94.7 0.8 4.5 0.9 1.9 36.4
Argyll and Bute 1.2 88.6 8.3 3 2.3 1.8 32.3
City of Edinburgh 1 95.9 1.7 2.4 6.1 1.4 39.8
Clackmannanshire 97 3 1.2 1.6 39.1
Dumfries and Galloway 1 94.7 2.5 2.9 1 1.9 34.5
Dundee City 1.3 94.4 0.9 4.7 6.1 3.5 43.2
East Ayrshire 0.9 97.4 0.4 2.2 0.9 1.3 35.4
Indicator (Dwellings)
  1. Total Dwellings
  2. Which Are Long-term empty
  3. Which Are Occupied
  4. Which Are Second Homes
  5. Which Are Vacant
  6. With 'Occupied Exemptions'
  7. With 'Unoccupied Exemptions'
  8. With Single Adult Discounts
Measure Type
  1. Count
  2. Ratio
Reference Period
  1. 2001
  2. 2002
  3. 2003
  4. 2004
  5. 2005
  6. 2006
  7. 2007
  8. 2008
  9. 2009
  10. 2010
  11. 2011
  12. 2012
  13. 2013
  14. 2014
  15. 2015
  16. 2016
  17. 2017
  18. 2018
  19. 2019
Reference Area
(showing types of area available in these data)
  1. Countries
  2. Council Areas
  3. Scottish Parliamentary Constituencies
  4. Health Board Areas
  5. Electoral Wards
  6. Community Health Partnerships
  7. 2001 Intermediate Zones
  8. 2001 Data Zones
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Entire dataset
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About the Dataset
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In dataset
Next update due
June 2021

This dataset contains information on the number (‘count’) of dwellings in each data zone and council area in Scotland, and the percentages (‘ratio’) that are occupied, vacant, unoccupied and exempt from paying council tax, long-term empty, second homes, are occupied and exempt from paying council tax, and that are receiving a 'single adult' council tax discount (i.e. dwellings subject to a Council Tax discount of 25 per cent).

The estimates are based on two Council Tax data collections carried out each year in September. Council Tax data contains information on the various discounts/exemptions awarded to each dwelling in Scotland. From these we can determine which dwellings are occupied and which are vacant or second homes. Council area and Scotland level estimates are produced using data provided by each council to the Scottish Government, using the Council Tax Base form, ‘Ctaxbase’, available from the Scottish Government website. Data zone level estimates are produced using data provided by each council to National Records of Scotland (NRS) at data zone or postcode level. Data zone level estimates are constrained so that they sum to the Council Tax Base totals for a council area, unless a council has advised otherwise. For full details of the methods used see the ‘Estimates of Households and Dwellings in Scotland’ publications on the NRS website.

The number of occupied dwellings is roughly equivalent to the number of households in an area, which is why we refer to this dataset as ‘Household Estimates’. This dataset provides the best source of information on the number of occupied dwellings or households at data zone level each year. However, for information on numbers of households in council areas and Scotland, separate mid-year household estimates are available on and the NRS website. These are based on the September occupied dwellings data but are adjusted (i) to estimate number of households in June, (ii) to account for the estimated number of occupied dwellings which contain more than one household and (iii) to account for the estimated number of communal establishments which have been included in Council Tax records.

Additional summary statistics for National Parks, Strategic Development Plan areas, urban-rural classifications and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation deciles are published annually in 'Estimates of Households and Dwellings in Scotland' which is available from the NRS website.

The estimated total number of dwellings in this dataset differ from those in the Dwellings by Council Tax Band, Dwellings by Number of Rooms, Dwellings Median Number of Rooms and Dwellings by Type datasets as these are extracted from a different source (the Assessors’ Portal) at a different time of year (December, or January the following year).

Total Dwellings   A ‘dwelling’ refers to the accommodation itself, for example a house or a flat, and includes second homes that are not let out commercially. Caravans count as dwellings if they are someone’s main house.

Which Are Occupied   Any dwelling apart from those which are vacant or second homes. The number of occupied dwellings is a good estimate of the number of households.

Which Are Vacant   This includes dwellings that are exempt from Council Tax and are unoccupied; and dwellings which are recorded on Council Tax systems as being long-term empty properties.

With ‘Unoccupied Exemptions’   Dwellings exempt from Council Tax, which are unoccupied, such as new dwellings, those undergoing repair or awaiting demolition and dwellings where the previous owner has died.

Which are Long-term empty   Dwellings which are long-term empty properties. This should include properties subject to discounts and levies due to long-term empty status.

Which Are Second Homes   These are dwellings that are not someone's main residence and that are occupied for at least 25 days a year. These include self-catering holiday accommodations available to let for a total of less than 140 days per year. Second homes which are let out for 140 days or more are not included in these figures as they are classed as business so pay non-domestic rates rather than Council Tax. Each council has discretion to apply a discount of between 10% and 50% on second homes, or may choose to apply no discount.

With ‘Occupied Exemptions’   Dwellings exempt from Council Tax, which are occupied. This includes: dwellings only occupied by students, armed forces accommodation owned by the Secretary of State for Defence, dwellings which are the sole residence only of people aged under 18 or people who are classed as severely mentally impaired, trial flats used by registered housing associations, and prisons.

With Single Adult Discount   Dwellings subject to a Council Tax discount of 25 per cent. This may include, for example, dwellings with a single adult, dwellings with one adult living with one or more children, or with one or more adults who are 'disregarded' for Council Tax purposes.

For a short explanation of the categories:

Total Dwellings   =   Which Are Occupied   + Which Are Vacant   + Which Are Second Homes

Which Are Vacant   =   With ‘Unoccupied Exemptions’   +   Which are Long-term empty

With ‘Occupied Exemptions’   and With Single Adult Discount   are a fraction of   Total Dwellings

Because figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number, totals might be not equal to the sum of categories.

Due to the methodology used, totals for Council are not equal to the sum of Data Zone values.

Confidentiality Policy

This dataset does not contain any directly identifiable personal information.

Quality Management

Data from the Council Tax base collection and NRS council tax collection are compared. Explanations for discrepancies are sought from local authorities. Total dwellings per Data Zone are compared with earlier years’ data, and with dwellings data extracted from the Assessor’s Portal, to identify any potential issues. Explanations for large changes in total dwellings are sought from local authorities.

Accuracy and Reliability

Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number. Totals for council areas and Scotland may not equal the sum of the data zone level figures as a result of this rounding. Estimates are missing for Data Zones in some local authorities in some years. This should be taken into account if Data Zone level estimates are aggregated to produce estimates for higher geographies.

For most data zones, the data is aggregated from postcode level information. For a small number of postcodes, it has not be possible to allocate a data zone. This, combined with some other issues experienced by Councils, means that the Council level figures collected as part of the Scottish Government's Council Tax Base return are generally considered more accurate. As a result we constrain the Data Zone level information for each Council so that it sums to the Council Tax Base totals, unless a Council has advised otherwise.

The number of occupied dwellings is used as a proxy for the number of households. However, one occupied dwelling may not always equal one household. One reason for the differences is that some occupied dwellings may be shared by more than one household; each household would be counted by the census but only the dwelling itself would be counted in Council Tax data. Another reason is that certain communal establishments (e.g. student halls of residence, barracks or prisons) may be included in the count of occupied dwellings from Council Tax systems but would not be classified as households in the census.

There are inconsistencies between the ways in which some Councils record Council Tax discounts and exemptions. Changes over time in categories of Council Tax discounts and exemptions can occur because a Council area has carried out a review and identified cases where a dwelling has been incorrectly categorised rather than as a result of real change 'on the ground'.

In 2013, many Councils re-classified long-term empty properties and second homes, which resulted in an apparent rise in the annual increase in the number of occupied dwellings. The re-classifications were due to Council Tax changes, both in the charging of long-term empty properties and the definition of such properties and second homes. Those Council areas with the biggest changes had all carried out re-classification exercises. This makes it difficult to determine how much of the change in these areas was due to homes being brought back into use. Therefore any changes over time in the numbers and percentages of occupied dwellings, vacant dwellings and second homes should be treated with caution as they may be a result of the issues associated with the 2013 legislation rather than real differences.

It is possible that not all information held on Council Tax billing systems is up-to-date. For example: Councils may not be notified immediately of a change in the circumstances of a household which affects eligibility for a Council Tax discount or exemption. Furthermore it may take time for changes as a result of new building or demolition to be recorded.

When using Data Zone level information on dwellings and households, changes over time can occur not only as a result of new building activity and demolition but also because of changes related to the postcodes of dwellings. Postcode changes can occur due to improvements made to administrative systems or NRS data cleaning, re-locating postcodes which were previously allocated to an incorrect Data Zones. Differences can also occur due to postcodes being allocated to a different Data Zone because the distribution of their population has changed. These differences are likely to be minimal and have only a small effect on change over time except when looking at small numbers of Data Zones.

Data on number of unoccupied exemptions and long-term empty properties are available at Data Zone level starting from 2014.

Separate figures on second homes and vacant dwellings were not available for Clackmannanshire (2006-2013), East Renfrewshire (2006-2011) or Renfrewshire (2006-2012). All such properties were grouped under ‘vacant dwellings'. Data zone level data was not available from Clackmannanshire (2008), Fife (2008) and East Renfrewshire (2008-2009). In 2014 Clackmannanshire was unable to provide data zone level information on second homes although they were able to provide this information at Council level. To ensure Data Zone level totals added to give the Council level figures from the Scottish Government's Council Tax Base return, the second homes figure from Council Tax Base was distributed evenly across all of Clackmannanshire's Data Zones. Additionally in 2014 issues with extracting data from Aberdeen City Council's Council Tax billing system meant that the Council were unable to provide a breakdown on long-term empty properties and second homes at small area level. A combination of the Council Tax Base totals for these categories and an earlier year's small areas data were used to estimate the number of long-term empty properties and the number of second homes in each Data Zone in Aberdeen City. In 2017 Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh and West Dunbartonshire were unable to provide any information on second homes at data zone level and at Council level. The 2016 Data Zone level and totals were used instead. Second homes information at data zone level and at Council level for West Dunbartonshire was not available for 2018 and 2019. The 2016 Data Zone level and totals were used instead.

Coherence and Comparability

The statistics are also provided in Excel, PDF and CSV formats on the NRS website. They are designed to be consistent, and incorporate comparable historical data where appropriate.

Accessibility and Clarity

It is the policy of the NRS to make its website and products accessible according to published guidelines. It is the policy of the NRS to make its website and products accessible according to published guidelines. More information is available in the Accessibility section of the NRS website.


The statistics are mainly used for informing Councils’ decisions about housing need and service provision. They are also used as the denominator for other statistics (e.g. the percentage of households receiving benefits).

Timeliness and Punctuality

Data is received from Council Tax billing systems on the first Monday of September each year and published the following summer.


In 2015, revisions were made to the household estimates previously published for Shetland Islands (2007-2014), City of Edinburgh (2014) and West Lothian (2013-2014). For full details see the Estimates of households and dwellings in Scotland, 2015 publication.

Revisions and corrections to previously published estimates are dealt with in accordance with the Scottish Government Statistician Group corporate policy statement on revisions and corrections – a copy of which is available at this link.


This slice of multidimensional data is not a Linked Data resource in the database: it's a virtual resource (i.e. you can't query it by SPARQL). But does have a permanent unique URL which can be bookmarked.
Dimensions Linked Data

A linked data-orientated view of dimensions and values

Dimension Locked Value
Measure Type
Reference Period
Indicator (Dwellings)
(not locked to a value)
Reference Area
(not locked to a value)