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Do You Pay Council Tax on an Empty Property?

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When it comes to council tax, one of the most common questions is whether you need to pay it on an empty property.

The answer is not straightforward, as it depends on various factors such as the location, the reason for the property being empty, and the specific council’s policies. In this article, we will go into the details and provide you with a comprehensive guide on council tax for empty properties.

Table of Contents

Do you pay council tax on an empty property when someone dies?

Properties left empty after someone has died are exempt from the Council Tax until a Grant of Probate has been issued.  Some councils give you an additional six months after Probate is granted if a property isn’t sold, let, or someone else is moving in.

Bungalows left to beneficiaries can be difficult to sell if they are in a rural location, need modernisation or the demand for bungalows has diminished.

Do You Pay Council Tax on an Empty Property?

Yes almost certainty you should expect to pay council tax.  However, there are other factors such as:

  1. Location: Council tax policies vary by location. Some councils offer exemptions or discounts for empty properties, while others charge a premium. For example, in Birmingham, an empty property is liable for council tax if it remains empty for over a year.
  2. Reason for Emptiness: If the property is empty due to renovation or refurbishment, some councils may offer a temporary exemption or discount. However, if the property is empty due to the owner’s choice or neglect, the council may charge a higher rate.
  3. Duration of Emptiness: The length of time the property remains empty also plays a role. Some councils offer a limited period of exemption, typically up to six months, before charging full council tax or a premium.

Exemptions and Discounts

  • Probate Exemption: Properties left empty by a deceased person are often exempt from council tax for a limited period, usually up to six months.
  • Renovation Exemption: Some councils offer a temporary exemption or discount for properties undergoing renovation or refurbishment.
  • Empty Property Discount: A few councils still offer a discount for empty properties, but this is becoming less common.

What are the exceptions for not paying Council Tax?

In these circumstances, council tax exemptions apply – but you must contact the council as rules vary:

  • Property left empty by patients in hospitals or moved into a care home;
  • The owner has moved into a prison;
  • Property left empty because a carer providing care;
  • Repossessed properties.

 

You must speak to your local council to apply for an exemption. 

If the property has substantial equity, is mortgage-free, or has been long-term empty, these are being targeted by criminals to convert into a cannabis factory, often resulting in a fire-damaged house not covered by insurance due to criminal activity.

What is long term empty property premium?

Property sitting empty for over 2 years will attract an empty property premium.  This can be anything from 50% to 100% on top of your normal council tax rate liability.

It is best to consult your council and let them know your plans to sell or rent the property.

Premiums for Empty Properties

  1. Empty House Premium: Some councils charge a premium for empty properties, which can range from 50% to 300% of the standard council tax rate.
  2. Long-Term Emptiness: Properties left empty for an extended period, typically over five years, may be subject to a higher premium.
Do You Pay Council Tax on an Empty Property
One homeowner shared their experience of buying a repossessed property that had been empty for five years. Despite renovating the property, they were charged an empty house premium of 200% due to the property's history

Do you have to pay council tax when renovating a property?

All councils will charge you 100% council tax, and some will even charge you 200% while the property is empty or is being renovated.

It may be worth considering securing your empty property to make it look like lived in.  Whether you have your own empty property to sell or spotted an empty property on your street, you can report it.

Council Tax Policies for Empty Properties

Each council has their own policy for empty properties however, you should expect to pay council tax.

 

CouncilExemption/DiscountPremium
BirminghamUp to 1 year100%
LeedsUp to 6 months50%
LondonUp to 3 months200%

Do I need to pay council tax on a flat I own and live in, if I move out temporarily?

Yes, you will need to pay council tax on the flat, even if you move out temporarily. However, you may be eligible for a discount or exemption depending on the council’s policies.

Can I claim a single person discount on an empty property?

No, single-person discounts are typically only applicable to occupied properties. However, you may be able to claim a discount or exemption for the empty property, depending on the council’s policies.

Thinking of selling a property?

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