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.
The 2018 Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act allows the Council to introduce the following council tax premiums on properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for two years or more. The two years starts from when the property first became empty, regardless of ownership.
- From 2019/20 up to 100% premium for homes empty between two and five years (prior to 1 April 2019 up to 50%)
- From 2020/21 up to 200% premium for homes empty between five and ten years
- From 2021/22 up to 300% premium for homes empty for ten years or more)
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