Council tax is paid to local councils from April to January as a monthly instalment. It applies to all residential property occupied by adult homeowners and tenants in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Each property is assigned a valuation band according to its market value ascertained by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Properties of the lowest market value are assigned band A; the bands keep increasing to H as the values of properties rise. It is this band that determines the amount of council tax that is due as council tax is a property-based tax. 

The amount of council tax is also dependant upon certain other factors. For instance, a full council tax is applicable when a minimum of 2 adults share a household. If someone lives alone or is the only adult (there may be multiple occupants, but only one of them is above 28 years of age)  in the household, they qualify for a 25 per cent discount on their council tax bill. 

Similarly, if the residents(s) of the said property are under state benefits, they may also be eligible for a council tax discount and in extreme cases where the residents are hospitalised, under care at home or disabled, they may be exempted from having to pay council tax bills.

How Much Council Tax Should I Pay If I Am Living In Two Places?

You will be required to pay council tax on both properties if you are living in two places. However, one of these will qualify as your main home and chances are that unless specific criteria apply, you will pay a full council tax for it. The second property may classify as a second home or holiday home, depending upon the amount of time you spend there. This may be eligible for a council tax discount, but there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration.

To learn more about this, we will explore the following areas:

  • What Are Second Home Discounts?
  • What Happens To Council Tax If My Second Home Is An Empty Property?
  • How Can I Get Council Tax Exemption on an Empty Property?
  • Are Occupied Properties Eligible For Council Tax Exemption?
  • Do I Pay Full Council Tax If My Second Home Is A Job Related Accommodation?

What Are Second Home Discounts?

These are further categorised into Local Discounts and National Discounts.

Local discounts qualify one of your properties as the main residence which is due for a full council tax; unless you are the sole adult occupying it or you live alone. Your other property is considered as a second home that may be furnished, used as per your convenience and may even belong to a higher valuation band than the main residence. Depending upon each council’s tax schene and the discretion of their decision, while some councils may consider a second home for a 50 per cent discount, while others may not.

On the other hand, National Discounts are applicable for individuals who are required to maintain a second home due to the nature of their employment or due to proximity to their workplace. They are most applicable in the case of personnel of the Armed Forces who often maintain a personal residence, in addition to a government-assigned one. In such cases, your second home becomes eligible for a 50 per cent discount. There is no council tax due upon Armed Forces personnel on their government-assigned residence.

What Happens To Council Tax If My Second Home Is An Empty Property?

If your second home is an empty property, you are still liable to pay council tax. However, instead of a full council tax, you may be eligible for a reduction in your bill. This reduction is at the discretion of your local council authority. 

If your second home is empty due to some structural changes or repair work that is underway you may qualify for a council tax discount.

If you own a residential property and leave it empty and unfurnished for 2 years or more, you will be charged an “Empty Homes Premium” on your council tax bill. While this is to encourage the owners to bring the house back into use, but the premium charges can increase the council tax bill by 100 per cent. 

How Can I 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

Do I Pay Full Council Tax If My Second Home Is A Job Related Accommodation?

If the second home counts as a “Job Related Dwelling”, it becomes eligible for a 50 per cent reduction on council tax bills. However, to be considered as one, the property must fulfil the below criteria:

  • It is deemed necessary for the occupants to reside at the property due to job-related requirements and duties
  • The dwelling is essential for the occupants’ performance of the job 
  • The occupant requires a certain level of security that is being provided at the second home.
  • Occupants are required to inform their local council 

Conclusion:

Council tax is determined by the value of one’s residential property and the circumstances of the occupants. This means that the amount of council tax due on a property is calculated by keeping in view the valuations band assigned to it for council tax payments, as well as the consideration of its occupants, their incomes and if they are recipients of state benefits that may qualify them for a council tax discount.

The amount of council tax due on properties classified as “Second Homes” is mostly independent of the council tax due on the property that serves as the main residence. There is no exemption on council tax for second homes but certain circumstances make the resident eligible for discounts on their council tax bills.

However, one cannot assume that since they fulfil the eligibility criteria for a council tax reduction, they will become automatically recipients of the same. One needs to contact their local council office, share relevant information and evidence along with an application for council tax reduction. Once the application is approved by the local council authorities, the council tax discount becomes applicable. 

FAQs: How Much Council Tax Should I Pay If I Am Living In Two Places?

Do you pay more Council Tax on a second home?

No, you don’t pay more council tax on a second home unless it is unfurnished and unoccupied for 2 years or more; in which case an empty home premium is applied on the full council tax bills. Residences that classify as second homes or holiday homes may in fact be eligible for a 50 per cent discount on the council tax bill as the occupant has another property listed as the main residence.

Can you live in two properties?

Yes, you can live in two properties. However, you must declare one of them as your main residence and the other as a second home or a holiday home.

What is classed as a second home for Council Tax?

Property that shows proof of being inhabited periodically yet does not meet the requirements to qualify as the main residence of its occupant(s) is classed as a second home for council tax. It must be furnished and the occupants must spend at least 25 days in a year living in it.

How do I avoid paying tax on a second home?

Unless you rent out your second home, there is no exemption from council tax that may be applied. In this case, the tenants will become responsible for council tax payments.

Do I need to pay council tax if the property is empty?

An empty property may only be exempt from council tax payments if it fulfils certain criteria such as it belongs to a charity, the owner is in hospital/in care at another residence/ has died/ is in prison or that is inhabitable due to poor infrastructure. In most cases, empty properties that are left unoccupied and unfurnished for 2 years or more are due for a premium on their council tax bill.

References:

Can I Get A Discount On My Council Tax?

Sole or main residence | Who must pay council tax

Council Tax: Second homes and empty properties

Two properties – Council tax

Paying the right level of Council Tax: a plain English guide to Council Tax

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