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Unoccupied properties

Council Tax and unoccupied properties

Unoccupied property

  • Some properties are exempt when they are unoccupied
  • Some properties receive no reductions when they are unoccupied
  • Some properties attract a premium when they are unoccupied

The following properties are exempt when they are unoccupied:

Charity

Qualifying criteria

Unoccupied property that was last used for charitable purposes.  Can be furnished or unfurnished.

Timescales

  • Free from Council Tax for up to six months from the date that the last resident left
  • At the end of the six month period, full charges will apply.

The 6-week rule applies - A further period free from Council Tax cannot be applied for until the property has been occupied for at least six weeks.

Prisoner/person in detention

Empty property that would be the only, or main home, of a person who is in prison.  

Qualifying criteria

  • is detained in a prison, hospital, or any other place by virtue of an order of a civilian court (ie) any court in the UK, or
  • is detained under the Immigration Act 1971 (eg) deportation, or,
  • is detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, or,
  • is temporarily discharged, or released under the Prison Act 1952 (eg) on a home visit.

An exemption will not be granted if the reason for detention is a result of non-payment of council tax or non-payment of a fine.

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Patient

Qualifying criteria

Empty property that was the only, or main, home of the owner who is now living in a hospital, residential care home, nursing home, mental nursing home or a hostel*. 

*The hostel must be providing care for reasons of old age, disability, past or present alcohol or drug dependence or past or present mental disorder. 

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Deceased

Qualifying criteria

Empty property where the owner is now deceased (and the property was the sole or main residence of the owner). Any additional properties that the deceased may have owned do not benefit from this exemption. The property can be furnished or unfurnished.

Timescales

  • The property will be free from Council Tax until probate is granted (once probate is granted it can run for a further six months unless ownership is transferred before this).
  • At the end of the six month period full charges will apply.

The 6-week rule applies, this means that a further period free from Council Tax cannot be applied for until the property has been occupied for at least six weeks.

Prohibited by law

Empty property which can't be lived in by law.  

Qualifying criteria

  • prevents occupancy and is imposed by any planning permission granted or deemed to be granted under Part 3 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990; or
  • the occupation of which is otherwise prohibited by law; or
  • which is kept unoccupied by reason of other action taken under powers conferred by or under any Act of Parliament with a view to prohibiting its occupation or to acquiring it.

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Clergy

Qualifying criteria

Empty property which is being held for a member of the clergy. 

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Receiving care

Qualifying criteria

An empty property that was the only, or main home of the owner/tenant who has moved somewhere (other than a hospital or care home) to receive care for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Old age
  • Disability
  • Illness
  • Past or present alcohol or drug dependence
  • Past or present mental disorder

And who has been absent for the whole period since first leaving the property. 

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Providing care

Qualifying criteria

An empty property that was the only, or main home of the owner/tenant who is now living somewhere else to care for someone for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Old age
  • Disability
  • Illness
  • Past or present alcohol or drug dependence
  • Past or present mental disorder
  • The owner is expected to have moved into the property where they are providing care directly from the property concerned.

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Owned by student

Qualifying criteria

  • An empty property that was the only, or main, home of a student, who must be the owner of the property.
  • Persons who become students within six weeks of leaving the property will also qualify.
  • A student here means full-time students, students under the age of 20 on 'qualifying courses' and foreign language assistants.

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Repossessed

An empty property which has been repossessed by the mortgage lender. 

Qualifying criteria

In order to claim this exemption we will need to see the repossession order. This will usually be the court order giving the date the property is to be surrendered to the mortgage company.

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Armed forces accommodation

Qualifying criteria

A property owned by the Secretary of State for Defence which is held for the purpose of armed forces accommodation.

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Owned by bankrupts

Qualifying criteria

An empty property where the person responsible would be the person acting as a trustee in bankruptcy.

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

Caravans and boats

Qualifying criteria

A property made up of caravan pitch or residential boat mooring that is not occupied by a caravan or boat. 

Timescales

No limit as long as the above applies.

The following properties receive no exemption when they are unoccupied and full council tax charges are payable

  • Unoccupied and unfurnished

  • Unoccupied and furnished (unless they are deemed to be job related)

  • Uninhabitable 

Long term empty properties

  • From 1 April 2019 any property having been empty and unfurnished for more than two years will attract a 100% empty premium.
  • From 1 April 2020 any property having been empty and unfurnished for more than five years will attract a 200% empty premium.
  • From 1 April 2021 any property having been empty and unfurnished for more than ten years will attract a 300% empty premium.

Apply for a Council Tax exemption. 

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