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Council Tax Empty Dwellings

Even in the most straightforward circumstances, Council Tax can be difficult to fully understand; many struggle to calculate which band they should be in and the monthly payments they need to make.

For those who also own a home that is unlived in, known as an empty dwelling, things get even more complicated. If you have an empty and unfurnished home you will be required to pay Council Tax, however it may be that you qualify for a discount.

The policy for Council Tax Empty Dwellings is somewhat less clear than it used to be. Previously, all empty property was eligible for exemption from Council Tax charging for the initial 6 month period, however since April 1st 2013 this has all changed. “Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished” properties will be subject to a discount of anywhere between 0% and 100% of their normal rate of Council Tax, at the individual council’s discretion.

  • Know your rights and your council tax liability based on your situation

Predictably this has sparked alarm in those who own an unlived in home, but there are situations in which you may qualify for a discount on Council Tax for empty dwellings, such as if your home is currently undergoing major repair works or structural change (such as having your walls built for example). Your local council will normally send you a completion notice if this is the case. This notice informs you of the day the council thinks your property was completed. You have to start paying Council Tax Empty Dwellings from this date.

If you are the owner of an empty property, the best thing to do is to establish what your council’s policy on Council Tax for empty dwellings is, by contacting the Council Tax Office in your local government directly or searching online.

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Advice on Council Tax Dwellings

When it comes to Council Tax for empty dwellings, it’s not all bad news fortunately. Some houses are exempt from Council Tax for the duration they are empty. These include homes which meet the following criteria:

  • The home of someone in prison (except if their sentence is for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
  • The home of a person who has moved into care or hospital or who is being looked after by relatives
  • One that has been repossessed
  • One that cannot be lived in by law
  • One that is empty because it has been compulsory purchased and is to be demolished

Another situation in which you may not have to pay council tax for empty dwellings is in the event of the owner of the house dying. If this were to happen, Council Tax will not be charged for up to 6 months after probate is granted (this is your legal right to sell the house).

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Where you can find the best advice on Council Tax Empty Dwellings

Final decisions on the Council Tax you will be liable to pay for your empty property lies within your individual council, as detailed above, however it’s also worth familiarising yourself with further rules regarding properties which have remained empty for two years or longer.

If a home has been empty and unfurnished for at least 2 years, your council has the power to charge up to an extra 50% Council Tax, assuming it is not an annexe. Please note that those in the armed forces are also exempt from this fee. Local authorities may also set an empty house premium for long term empty properties. Properties which have been unoccupied, substantially unfurnished for over two years may be charged up to 150% of normal liability which is why it is so important to establish whether you are liable.

However, if you feel that you own an empty property that is uninhabitable, you might be eligible to be removed from paying Council Tax for empty dwellings. To do this, simply apply to your local valuation office agency for the property to be removed. This may provide exemption for a period of time subject to the policy of each individual council.

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