Amid a surge in property prices, eligibility for a council tax relief is sure to relieve some of the post-pandemic financial burdens on many households; especially when the premises are either not in use and empty or are only used as a holiday home. 

While Council Tax remains applicable on an empty property a discount on the bill is at the discretion of the local council. If a residential property has been left empty for 2 years or more, the council tax bill may be doubled.

As we proceed with reading, we will be able to explore some important information regarding council tax relief; including the following:

  • Is council tax relief applicable on an empty property?
  • How can one get council tax exemption on unoccupied premises?
  • Are occupied properties eligible for council tax exemption?
  • How is council tax calculated?
  • Who is eligible to pay council tax?
  • What factors affect council tax bills?
  • How many empty properties are there in the UK?
  • Are property prices rising in the UK? 

Do You Get Council Tax Relief On An Empty Property?

Sometimes you may be able to get council tax relief on an empty property. However, this depends on certain overarching conditions may need to be considered. These include:

  • If the said property is not the main residence (whether it is rented or owned) qualifies as a second home. In this case, the local council may assign a discount of up to 50 percent on the council tax bill.
  • If there is major rework being done such as the reconstruction of walls, a discount on the council tax bill may be applicable. 

To find out exact details about local councils and their council tax schemes, click here: Find your local council

How To Get Council Tax Exemption on an Empty Property?

If a new property is being constructed or an existing one is being refurbished, no council tax will be applicable for the duration of construction/home improvement. 

If a property is considered to be derelict; making it impossible to be inhabited, it will be exempted from council tax payment. However, the deterioration to the premises must be due to weather conditions, vandalism or rot. Additionally, the property must require structural refurbishments to be made liveable again.

If the owner of the property has died and it remains unoccupied, there is council tax due on the premises. This discount remains applicable even after probate has been attained. However, once 6 months have passed after the probate, council tax becomes applicable.

A temporary exemption of up to 6 weeks may be applicable in cases where the said property is unoccupied, unfurnished, and listed for sale.

Following is a list of further exemptions from council tax payments:

  • the owner lives in a care home
  • the resident is in hospital care
  • the resident is living elsewhere to take care of someone
  • the resident is in the armed forces
  • the resident is in prison (not for non-payment of council tax bills)
  • the property is/was registered by a charity
  • it is an annexe of a single property
  • premises that have been repossessed
  • premises that are purchased to be demolished

Are Occupied Properties Eligible For Council Tax Exemption?

An occupied property may be exempted from council tax payments under the following conditions:

  • the visiting accommodation of a member of the armed forces
  • the Ministry of Defence barracks
  • part of another property; residents of whom are elderly or disabled relatives of those living in the said premises
  • student hall of residence 
  • the residents are foreign diplomats

Who Has To Pay Council Tax?

Residents of England, Scotland, and Wales qualify for council tax bills if (a) they are above the age of 18 years and (b) own or rent a home. 

A council tax bill is charged at full rate when two adults are living on the same property. Partners and spouses must share equal responsibility for the bill.

However, the amount of this bill may become discounted in case any of the following circumstances apply to a household:

  • A 25 percent discount may be availed on the council tax bill if the applicant is an adult who either lives alone or has a child living with them.
  • A 50 percent discount may be availed if all the household residents do not count as adults (are under the age of 18 years)
  • A 100 percent exemption becomes applicable if all household members are full-time students.

To check eligibility for a discount on your council tax, contact your local council by clicking on this link: Apply for a Council Tax discount – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How Do I Calculate Council Tax?

To be able to calculate one’s council tax, it is essential to collect information to answer the following questions:

  • Which value band does my property belong to?
  • What are the council tax rates that my local council has set for this band?
  • Am I eligible for a discount or complete exemption on the council tax bill?

It must be noted here that the property must be in England, Scotland or Wales.

What Are The Factors That May Affect My Council Tax Bill?

There are certain circumstances due to which properties may be revalued and their bands reassigned by the local council. Below is a list of factors that may cause a change in band:

  • a part of your property is demolished and is not rebuilt
  • the property is altered to subdivide it into self-contained units, (this could be a single unit with an annexe – each unit will be considered under a separate band) 
  • a single property is reconstructed into self-contained flats
  • flats are converted to a single property
  • residents start or stop working from home
  • changes were made to property the property by the previous owner
  • significant changes such as a new road are being made to the local area
  • the council tax band was changed for a property with similar features in the same area

How Many Empty Properties Are There in the UK?

According to statistics shared by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Empty Housing (England) (parliament.uk), the number of empty homes in the UK stood at more than 600,000 in October 2019. This is an increase of 2.2 percent from the previous year and takes into consideration properties that have been unoccupied for more than 6 months. However, this may not be considered as comprehensive data as it is derived from information shared by local councils based upon council tax collections.

Are Property Prices Rising in the UK?

According to statistics shared in a recent article in The Guardian House prices forecast to rise by up to 3.5% a year between 2022 and 2024 the summer of 2021 witnessed a peak in property prices. The reason cited for this extraordinary growth is the increased need for home spaces as more and more people opt to work from home. 

It is further expected that property prices will fall in the next few months. Despite this, the year will end at witnessing a 4.5 percent increase in property prices as compared to 2020.

As per the same article, since this price hike is expected to continue in the future as well, an increase of 3.5 percent is anticipated between 2022 and 2024.

FAQs: Do You Get Council Tax Relief On An Empty Property?

How can I avoid paying council tax on an empty property?

While the local council may only able to allow council tax exemption in extreme cases such as if the owner is in a hospital or prison or that none of the residents is adults, property owners may be able to avoid paying council tax by renting out the premises. In this way, the tenants will be liable to pay the bills. 

How much council tax do you pay on an empty property?

Homes that have been empty and unfurnished for more than five years are charged with council tax of 200 percent. However, if it is not the main property of residence, is used as a holiday home or the resident/owner is in a hospital or living elsewhere taking care of someone else, a certain reduction may be applicable depending upon the council tax scheme of the local council.

How long can you leave your house empty?

Homes that are unfurnished and empty may be eligible for a 100 percent council tax reduction for a month. Once that time duration has passed, they become eligible for a full council tax bill. If the property is left unoccupied for more than 2 years, the council can charge an empty homes premium on the premises.

Do you pay gas and electric bills on an empty property?

While there may be no consumption charges on utilities, owners/tenants of an empty property will be liable to pay the daily standing charge for keeping their utilities connected to the network.

Do you pay council tax on a second home?

While individuals are liable to pay council tax on a second home, the total bill may be discounted on the property that is not their main home of residence.

Are References:

Council Tax – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Properties exempt from council tax – Council tax discounts, reductions and exemptions – Newham Council

Discounts and exemptions (sheffield.gov.uk)

House prices forecast to rise by up to 3.5% a year between 2022 and 2024 | House prices | The Guardian

Empty Housing (England) (parliament.uk)

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