From April 2024 the Council has changed the Council Tax scheme for empty properties. The change means that the Council will now apply a 100% empty homes premium on properties which have been empty for over one year (previously two years). The Council believes the change will encourage more empty properties into productive use while enabling Warrington to raise additional revenue. 

From 1 April 2022 there are no discounts available on properties that become unoccupied and unfurnished, the full amount of council tax is payable.

If your property became empty and unfurnished prior to 1 April 2022, you may be able to apply for a backdated discount, as long as one has not been granted before.

Before the 1 April 2022, 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 or after 31 March 2022 (unless the property has been granted a discount as it is undergoing major repair work).

"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.

Apply for an unoccupied property exemption

The 2018 Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act

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.

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. 

Empty and unfurnished properties - before the 1 April 2022

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.