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Do You Pay Council Tax on an Empty Property?

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Do You Pay Council Tax on an Empty Property?
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Empty properties are not automatically exempt from council tax.

However, in some cases they can be. 

Let’s explore what these cases are and why.

What is council tax?

Council tax is tax property owners are charged by the council for a range of local services. 

These services include: 

  • Rubbish collection
  • Roadworks
  • Social services
  • Emergency services (police, fire services, etc.)

And much more. 

Each property in the UK is assigned a council tax valuation band by Valuation Office Agency (VOA). This determines how much residents of each council district pay.

Council tax payments are typically split into 10 monthly installments.

When is a property exempt from council tax?

Exemptions for council tax apply under certain conditions. 

These might vary between council tax districts. They might also be for a fixed period, such as six months, or indefinitely. 

Examples of reasons for exemptions include:

  • Properties where all occupants are aged under 18
  • A property which is occupied only by people with severe mental or physical impairments
  • Condemned properties (i.e., ones that have been officially declared unsafe to live in)

And of course, empty properties in some circumstances – which we have highlighted below.

When are empty properties exempt from council tax?

Whether you must pay council tax on an empty property depends on the specific details of your case.

1. Landlords with tenants still under contract

If you are a landlord with an empty property, the liability for council tax on your property depends on whether the latest tenancy agreement is still valid

If it is, your tenants must still pay council tax. If not, your are responsible for paying it.

2. Unlivable properties

When properties need major structural repairs, councils can categorise them as unlivable.

This might occur because of structural repairs, property damage, or even extensive renovations that make a property temporarily unlivable, etc. 

3. Prison

Prisoners don’t pay council tax on their homes whilst they are in prison.

However, if they lived with someone in the said property, that person would receive a discounted council tax rate.

4. Deceased owners

Properties acquired through inheritance are not liable for council tax until probate.

Many councils offer six months’ grace after probate if the property stays unoccupied.

5. In care or providing care

If the property occupants are no longer capable of living there due to ill health, no council tax will be due. 

And if a property owner is providing care for someone else, they are also exempt from paying council tax on their empty property.

The importance of notifying councils

In most of the above circumstances, the homeowner (or someone legally representing them) must notify the local council.

They will assess cases to ensure the homeowner gets the proper exemption or reduced rates.

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