Matthew Ashton

Written by

Matthew Ashton

3 minute read

Updated 14th February 2024

Council tax bills on unoccupied properties

Also known as the empty homes premium, your local council may charge additional rates for a property left empty, as follows:

  • Day 1 to 31: If your property has been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for less than one month, a council tax discount of 100% will apply. (IE, you pay no council tax for the first month.)
  • Month 2 to 23: After the period of 1 month, the total council tax will be payable for a period of up to 23 months (just under two years) if the property remains vacant
  • For properties unoccupied for 2 (24 months) years or more, loading to your council tax will apply, but the amount will depend on the date the property was first unoccupied:
  • From April 2013, council tax is payable at 150% of the total council tax for the property.
  • From April 2019, council tax is payable at 200% of the full council tax for the property.
  • From April 2020, council tax is payable at 300% for properties vacant between five and ten years.
  • From April 2021, council tax is payable at 400% for properties vacant for at least ten years or more.

If the property is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished and either requires or is undergoing, or has undergone major repair works to make it habitable, or is undergoing, or has undergone structural alteration, a discount of 50% may apply for up to 12 months from the date the property first became unoccupied and substantially unfurnished and does not start again if the liable person changes (IE a change of owner or tenant). After 12 months, however, the total council tax will become payable!

You must know that any discount period starts from the date the property first became unoccupied and substantially unfurnished and does not start again if the liable person changes (IE, a change of owner or tenant). If you are buying an empty property, ask how long the property has been unoccupied, as you could be in for a surprise bill.

When you do not pay council tax on an empty home

If you’re selling a property on behalf of an owner who’s died, you do not need to pay Council Tax until after you get probate as long as the property remains empty. After probate is granted, you may get a Council Tax exemption for another six months if the property is both unoccupied and still owned and in the name of the person who died.

Please find more valuable information from our unoccupied insurance experts by reading our helpful articles.

Council tax bills on second homes

If a property is a second home (IE it is furnished but it is no-one’s sole or main residence), no discounts or loadings apply.

Second homes, such as a job-related accommodation provided by an employer, a pitch occupied by a caravan or a mooring occupied by a boar are excepted. In such cases a 50% discount may apply.

When you do not pay council tax on a second home

Some homes do not get a Council Tax bill for as long as they stay empty. They include homes:

  • of someone in prison (except for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
  • of someone who’s moved into a care home or hospital
  • that have been repossessed
  • that cannot be lived in by law, for example if they’re derelict
  • that are empty because they’ve been compulsory purchased and will be demolished

Your property’s only considered derelict if it:

  • is not possible to live in it, for example because it’s been damaged by weather, rot or vandalism
  • would need major structural works to make it ‘wind and watertight’ again

You can read more information on the Gov.uk website or check the back of your paper council tax for more information.

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Written by Matthew Ashton

I started working in the insurance industry in 2004. Four years later, I left to focus on theological studies, working as a youth worker and then as a ministry director in Seattle, USA. When returning to the UK, I had an opportunity to work for the late Andrew Marchington. I joined his firm as a sales advisor when it had around ten staff members. Within three years, I was Head of Ops with a staff team of over 30 people. After a chance encounter in 2019 with Rachel Living and Will Cooper, I co-started Stanhope to build a high-value home, luxury watch, and jewellery broker synonymous with trust. I love being with Donna, my wife, and four kids when not working, cramming in the odd row, or running when I can. I am fortunate to love what I do and consider it a blessing to grow the Stanhope brand.

Matthew Ashton

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