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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Almost every homeowner in the UK dislikes paying tax. It is an added monthly expense which you must take into consideration when purchasing a property. However, Council Tax does have its uses, as it pays for some of the services you will benefit from while living in a particular area.

Many people are keen to know if they are exempt from Council Tax – and when you have an empty property, this is one of the first questions you might ask. So, that’s why we’ve answered the question: ‘Do you pay Council Tax on an Empty Property?’.

What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is the annual fee homeowners are charged by the council for the services they provide, such as rubbish collection, filling in potholes, and libraries.

Each property in the UK is assigned a council tax valuation band by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Your property’s band will determine how much council tax you pay.

Your council tax bill is typically split into 10 monthly payments.

When is a property exempt from Council Tax?

In some instances, a property in the UK can be exempt from Council Tax. This exemption may be for a fixed period of time – such as six months – or it may be indefinitely. A few examples of when a property may be exempt includes:

  • A property which has been re-possessed by a mortgage lender
  • A property which is unoccupied because the person who lived there has left to care for someone else
  • An unoccupied property because the person now lives elsewhere, as they need to be cared for (for example in hospital, or in a care home)
  • A property where all the people who live in it are aged under 18
  • Condemned property
  • A holiday caravan or boat if it’s on a property where council tax is paid
  • A property which is occupied only by people with severe mental impairment

There are also occasions when you do not have to pay Council Tax on an empty property. You should read the section on this topic further below in the blog.

Do You Pay Council Tax on an Empty Property?

Whether you need to pay Council Tax on an empty property depends on the circumstances. For example, you will almost always have to pay council tax on a holiday home – but when the property is in your possession for other reasons, you may not have to.

Your council may decide to give you a discount on council tax – but it’s up to them how much you can get. You should contact your council to enquire about this.

In some instances, you don’t need to pay Council Tax on an empty property. This includes 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

If you are still unsure, you should check your council’s regulations for empty properties on their official website.

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

If renovations being made to your property make it uninhabitable, and the work being done includes major home repairs or structural changes, residents will be exempt from paying council tax for the length of the process. 

Applying for a council tax discount for home renovations

If you want to apply for a council tax discount while home renovations are taking place, you will first need to inform your local council office before the renovations begin. If the work has already started, then you should simply inform them as soon as possible – but ideally, you will let them know in advance.

After this, the council will contact the residents and send a representative to survey the premises. If the house is eligible for a discount, the reduced amount of council tax will remain applicable for an entire year. The discount you are offered is up to the discretion of the council.

Once you start living in your property again, you should inform your local council within 21 days.

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