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The Truth About Empty Properties and Council Tax

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Welcome to the world of Council Tax – a local tax levied on residential properties in the UK. This blog will discuss the rules and regulations surrounding Council Tax on second homes and empty properties. 


Whether you are a landlord or a property owner, it’s essential to understand the nuances of Council Tax to ensure compliance and avoid penalties. So let’s dive in and make sense of Council Tax!

council tax empty property

Council Tax on Second Homes

If you own or rent a property that’s not your main home, such as a holiday home, you’ll usually have to pay Council Tax. 


However, your council can give you a discount – it’s up to them how much. So, if you’re lucky, your wallet won’t take too much of a hit. Now, who has to pay Council Tax on second homes? Well, the answer is, unsurprisingly, the owner of the property. If you rent out the property, the tenant is not usually liable to pay, but you are. 


So, if you’re considering investing in a second property and renting it out, ensure you’re prepared for the extra cost. But don’t worry; some discounts are available for second homeowners. 


If you’re letting your property as furnished holiday accommodation, you may be eligible for Business Rates instead of Council Tax. 


This could be a cheaper option, but checking with your council to see if you qualify is essential. Overall, Council Tax on second homes can be a headache, but it’s necessary to understand your obligations as a property owner. And at least you have a lovely holiday home to visit.

empty property council tax

Council Tax on Empty Properties

Council Tax on Empty Properties Owning a property that is not your primary residence means you are liable to pay council tax unless you are exempt or qualify for a discount. 


Such properties include holiday homes, second homes, or those left empty for various reasons. Definition of Empty Property An empty property refers to a home that has been unoccupied for a certain period. Empty properties can be those left vacant when the owner moves out, or they may remain unoccupied after someone has passed away. 


When a property is vacant, it is considered empty until someone moves in. Who Is Liable to Pay Council Tax on Empty Properties? The owner is responsible for paying council tax when a property is empty. 


Even if the property is uninhabitable, the owner is still liable for council tax if they have yet to inform the council that they are not living there. Owners of a second home or vacant property must also pay council tax. 


Discounts for Empty Property Owners If you own an empty property, there are specific discounts that you may qualify for. The amount of value will vary depending on your council, but it can range from 10% to 100% for up to six months. 


Some councils may also offer discounts for those renovating their empty property or who have inherited a property that has been empty for an extended period. 


Empty Homes Premium If your home has been empty for two years or more, you will be charged an extra amount of council tax, also known as the Empty Homes Premium. 


The amount you pay increases the longer the property remains unoccupied. For more than ten years, owners of vacant properties can be charged up to four times their usual council tax bill. 


In conclusion, owning empty properties come with council tax liabilities, but there are ways to get discounts if you qualify. It is best to check with your council to see what discounts you may be eligible for and to avoid any penalties for non-payment of council tax.

Council Tax Exemptions and Exceptions

Exemptions and Exceptions Ah, the land of opportunity and leeway! Of course, there are exemptions and exceptions even in council tax on empty properties. 


These can lead to full or partial exemptions, depending on the situation.


Exemptions for Unoccupied Properties: If your property is unoccupied for a certain period, you may be eligible for a total council tax exemption. It depends on your council, but it’s usually around six months. After that period, you may be required to pay the total amount or a percentage. Does this sound generous? Remember that “unoccupied” can vary from council to council. Exemptions for Properties Undergoing Major Repairs or Structural Alterations: Did you buy a property needing major fixing or renovations? Lucky you!

You can claim an exemption from council tax while the work is in progress. But beware, if the works are minor, you’ll unlikely get an exemption. Are you aiming for a simple paint job? Forget about it. 


Exemptions for Properties Left Empty by a Deceased Person: Yes, that’s right. If the empty property owner has passed away and no one lives there, you can get a council tax exemption or a discount. That’s one way to turn grief into a financial boon. 


However, to qualify for this exemption, you need to prove that the property was the deceased’s primary place of residence. Sorry, no discount for empty holiday homes here! Exceptions for 


Properties Occupied by Students or Armed Forces Personnel: Some exceptions are made for students, non-British spouses of armed forces members, and other qualified groups. If all residents in the property qualify for the exemption or discount, then the home would not be charged council tax. How convenient! 


While knowing about these opportunities is good, remember that the rules and eligibility criteria may vary considerably from one council to another. Be sure to check with your local council to make sure you qualify before assuming anything.

How to avoid paying council tax on an empty property

Sorry! It’s not possible…

The council must collect Council Tax, including enforcing payment on empty properties. If you do not pay, the council can take enforcement measures, such as contacting debt collection agencies, taking legal action, and even selling your property. 

In addition, penalties can be imposed if you fail to comply with Council Tax rules, which can add up to a significant amount of money. 

So, it’s essential to keep up to date with your Council Tax payments and seek advice from your council if you have any financial difficulties. Prevention is better than cure, and staying on top of your Council Tax is the best way to avoid unpleasant surprises.

do you pay council tax on empty property

Council Tax Empty Property Summary

In summary, owning a second home or having an empty property could mean you’re liable to pay Council Tax. 


Councils will usually offer discounts, but the amount is at their discretion. If your property is empty for two years or more, you may also be charged an additional “premium.” 


However, exemptions and exceptions exist, such as if the property is occupied by students or armed forces personnel. It’s essential to understand what you’re liable for, as non-compliance can result in penalties. 


Contact your council for more information on discounts and premiums.

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