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HouseWorth
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  1. Blog
  2. How to avoid paying council tax on an empty property
Advice about properties
15 June 2023

How to avoid paying council tax on an empty property

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
Row of properties on a city street.

Table of contents

  1. 1. How to avoid paying council tax on empty properties
  2. 2. Can I get a council tax discount on an empty property?
  3. 3. Summary: Council tax, empty properties, and making the right choice!

Every month, we pay our local authorities to fund our local services. This tax is known as council tax. When a home is occupied, the responsibility for paying it falls on the residents or tenants. But when a property is empty, the rules for paying tax can change!

Do you need to pay council tax on an empty property?

In most cases, empty properties are still liable for council tax. However, there are certain situations where an empty home can be exempt.

How to avoid paying council tax on empty properties

If your home fits into one or more of the following categories, you might be able to avoid paying council tax for a specific period of time.

1. Newly built or renovated properties

If a house is newly built or substantially renovated, it may be exempt from council tax for up to six months. The exemption allows time for the property to be marketed or for the new owners to move in.

2. Uninhabitable properties

Homes that are deemed uninhabitable due to severe damage, structural issues, or major renovations may be exempt from council tax. However, the council must receive evidence that the house is actively undergoing repair work.

3. Probate or deceased estates

When the owner of a property passes away, the property may be exempt from council tax for up to six months if it's unoccupied. The exemption provides time for legal processes, such as probate, to take place.

Certain properties, like military barracks, are exempt from council tax when they're used for the sole or main residence of an employee, i.e. a member of the armed forces.

5. Student accommodation

If the property is exclusively occupied by full-time students, it’s generally exempt from council tax. However, certain conditions must be met - for one, all occupants must be enrolled in a qualifying course.

Remember: Long-term empty properties cannot avoid council tax charges. Once the agreed period is up, you’re expected to begin paying council tax!

Can I get a council tax discount on an empty property?

Under some circumstances, your local council may offer a discount on the council tax rate for a specified period - usually the first six months. This discount is typically around 50% of the total bill. After the initial discount period is over, the full council tax charge is usually applicable.

Here are some common cases where you might be eligible for this discount:

1. Your property is undergoing major repairs or structural work

If your home is unoccupied due to major renovations or significant repairs, you may qualify for an empty properties council tax discount - as long as the property remains uninhabitable during this period, and evidence of ongoing construction is provided.

2. Your property is awaiting occupation or sale

If you're actively trying to sell or rent out your property, and it remains unoccupied, you may be eligible for a discount.

3. The property is owned by a charity

If the property is owned by a registered charity and is unoccupied, it might be exempt from council tax altogether. However, specific criteria must be met - contact your local council for more information!

4. Your property is a second home or holiday home

In some cases, local authorities offer a reduced council tax rate for second homes or holiday homes that are uninhabited for a significant portion of the year.

Remember: Local councils may have different rules and exemptions regarding council tax on empty homes. We always recommend contacting your local council to get an accurate picture.

Summary: Council tax, empty properties, and making the right choice!

Yes, your council tax bill can indeed be reduced, or even wavered if you own an empty home. However, unoccupied properties must meet stringent sets of rules for these discounts to take effect. Contact your local council to find out more.

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