Empty properties and Council Tax 

If you own an empty property, you may think that there is an exemption to paying Council Tax.

Generally, that is not the case although there are some exceptions. A property is deemed unoccupied when it is nobody’s sole or main home (place of residence), so neither owner nor tenant are living there.

As a tax, it must be paid and the bill is the responsibility of the person, or people, living on the property. This may be either the owner of the property or the tenants if they are living in a privately rented or council property.

Some people will be able to get council tax discounts or exemptions, but this will vary from council to council. If you think you’re entitled to one, get in touch with the council of your area.

Building work: You may get an empty property discount, depending on the council, if your home is undergoing major repair work or structural changes. You may get Council Tax relief whilst the work is being undertaken, but when it is complete you will have to start paying council tax again.

Letting: By letting, you are able to avoid paying an empty house council tax premium, as the property will be occupied and the tenant in the property will be responsible for paying the Council Tax. It also brings in extra rental income from the tenant. How much council tax premium you pay will depend on how long the property has been empty. You can be charged up to four times your normal Council Tax bill if your home has been empty for 10 years or more.

Discounts: Some councils will offer a discount of up to 50 per cent if the house has been left ‘furnished’. However, if it is left ‘unfurnished’ it’s unlikely you will get any discount and, after two years, you will have to pay the empty house Council Tax premium. Where the property is unfurnished and empty [Rent Void] a landlord can claim Council Tax relief. If part or furnished, the person living there is liable to pay Council Tax.

Exceptions: Some homes do not get a Council Tax bill for as long as they stay empty. They include someone who’s moved into a care home or hospital. The exemption will end if the property is occupied by another person but will apply again when that person leaves, as long as the owner or tenant is still resident in the care home, and it has remained their main place of residence since leaving.

Exemptions or discounts may also apply if:

  • A person in prison (except for not paying a fine for Council Tax)
  • A home that has been repossessed
  • A dwelling that cannot be lived in by law, for example, if they’re derelict
  • A home that is empty because it has been compulsorily purchased and will be demolished


There are various things that you need to consider buying a home, whether it is for your own family or your property portfolio.

Council tax can be one of a number of bugbears that you face but let us handle your legal enquiries, so it is one less thing to worry about.

For help and advice on matters relating to the commercial and residential property sectorcontact Gunduz Misiri on gunduz.misiri@mackrell.com or at 020 7240 0521.

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Gunduz Misiri
Gunduz has been a qualified solicitor since 2011 and specialises in both Residential and Commercial Property. He acts on behalf of Buyers, Sellers, Landlords and Tenants in the acquisition and disposal of both Commercial and Residential Property.