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Council Tax and empty properties

There are various rules around paying Council Tax on properties left empty.


A property left unoccupied:

  • due to a bereavement is usually exempt from the date of the persons death to six months after probate has been granted
  • by a person who has gone into a residential care home on a permanent basis is exempt
  • by a person who has gone to receive personal care elsewhere is usually exempt
  • by a person who is in prison is usually exempt
  • where the owner is a student is usually exempt
  • which is the responsibility of a trustee in bankruptcy is exempt

A property:

  • where occupation is prohibited by law is exempt - no time limit up to the order being lifted
  • that has been repossessed is exempt - no time limit up to date of sale or re-occupation
  • that is an unoccupied annexe is exempt


Properties that are uninhabitable and require or are undergoing works may qualify for a 25% discount for up to 12 months, you will need to provide proof and information about what work is being carried out.

A property which is unoccupied for any other reason, whether it is furnished or unfurnished, will have no exemption or discount applied.

Council Tax is a property tax that applies to all dwellings and in the absence of a resident the owner is liable for the charge when a property is unoccupied. You can be liable for multiple properties as an owner of a property and all the Council Tax paid on each property contributes to the services provided by us in the area.

Long term empty premium

For a property which has been unoccupied and unfurnished for over 24 months, an empty homes premium charge will be applied in addition to the standard Council Tax charge. A premium of 100% will be applied if the property has been empty for between two and five years. A premium of 200% will be applied if the property has been empty between five and ten years. From 1 April 2021 a premium of 300% will be applied if the property has been empty more than ten years.

Should you purchase a property that is already empty, you should check with us the date the property first became empty and unfurnished to be able to determine when a premium would commence.

If a property you own becomes unoccupied you must notify us.

Report a change of circumstances

The provision given to local authorities to charge a premium is intended to be a tool to help local authorities to:

  • bring long-term empty homes back into use to provide safe, secure and affordable homes
  • support local authorities in increasing the supply of affordable housing and enhancing the sustainability of local communities

Further information on schemes that we offer to help bring properties back into use can be found in our housing section of the website.


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