Different types of council tax discounts and exemptions
At a meeting of Full Council on 29 February 2016, the following discounts were approved for properties which are empty and unfurnished from 1 April 2016:
- A 100% discount 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]
The following discount/exemption scheme remains in place until 31 March 2016:
You may be entitled to a discount or exemption on council tax for a property which is nobody's main home, and which is unfurnished:
- A 100% discount can be given for up to three months
- A 25% discount can then be given if the property remains empty and unfurnished after these three months
The three month period begins on the day the property becomes empty and unfurnished, no matter how long the current owner has owned it.
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