Different types of council tax discounts and exemptions
For properties which are empty and unfurnished, a 100% discount on council tax will be given for a maximum of 1 month (the discount will start from the date the property becomes unoccupied and substantially unfurnished). No discount will be given if the property remains empty and unfurnished after 1 month (unless the property has been granted a discount as it is undergoing major repair work).
Please note: If you buy or rent a property that is already empty and unfurnished, then the previous owner or landlord will already have been granted a discount so you may be liable to pay 100% of the council tax.
"Substantially unfurnished” is not defined in council tax legislation. A property which is substantially unfurnished is unlikely to be occupied or be capable of occupation. A property which is capable of occupation can reasonably be expected to contain some, if not all, items from both of the following categories: furniture such as bed, chairs, table, wardrobe or sofa. The quantity of furniture present in the dwelling in relation to its size will also be a determining factor.
A 50% premium will be payable on top of the full charge for properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for 2 years or more. This means that a 150% charge will be payable. The 2 years starts to from when the property first became empty, regardless of ownership.
Under Schedule 3 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, civil penalties can be applied to a person who deliberately supplies false information. In addition, the provisions of the Theft Act 1968 apply to council tax.
You can read the formal public notice about this change [pdf]
There is no general council tax discount available for a property which is unoccupied, but is furnished. However, there are some circumstances where a discount or exemption can be given, for example if a person has died. More information about individual circumstances is available via the bullet points below.
Other reasons a home may be empty
There are a number of other circumstances where we may offer a discount or exemption on council tax due to a property being unoccupied:
- If it's uninhabitable due to building / repair work
- If you're a student who lives elsewhere during term time
- If you're living elsewhere to care for someone
- If you're living elsewhere (care home, hospital, etc) to receive care
- If someone has died
- If someone is in prison or detention
- If you have to live elsewhere for your job
- If it's owned by a charity
- If it's awaiting occupation by a minister of religion
- If it's an annexe which you can't rent out due to planning restrictions
- If it's deemed unfit for human habitation
- If it's subject to planning restrictions, demolition or compulsory purchase
- If it's been repossessed
- If the owner is bankrupt