Understanding Council Tax Exemptions

  • News
  • Understanding Council Tax Exemptions

Empty properties have previously been exempt from council tax or subject to a discount. Yet, many councils over the past few years have decided to scrap the exemptions and create another form of revenue for themselves. Councils can actually charge council tax for empty properties.

When you first move into a property it is important to make the council aware of a change of tenant please find attached the form to fill out, click here. 


 You may pay less for a property you own or rent that is not your main home. Councils can give furnished second homes or holiday homes a discount of up to 50% if the property is empty at any one time. However, it all depends on your individual council.


 You usually have to pay tax on an empty home but the council can decide to give a discount. The discount amount is down to them. For instance, Brighton and Hove City Council have now withdrawn the discount meaning that the full tax is due. Your council can also charge up to 50% extra council tax if the home has been empty for a period of two years or more.


If you’re selling an empty property on behalf of an owner who has died, you only start paying council tax six months after you get the probate. Second homes don’t get a council tax bill for as long as they stay empty. This covers homes that are vacant for the following reasons:

  • The occupier is in prison (unless they are in prison for not paying council fine or council tax)
  • The occupier has moved into a care home or hospital
  • Repossession of the home
  • The home is uninhabitable and declared so by law, for example, if they are derelict
  • The home has been compulsorily purchased for demolition

You may get a discount if your home is undergoing major repair work or structural changes, for example, if your walls are being rebuilt. However, all of these exemptions are totally adjudicated by your local authority.


Households, where everyone is a full time student, don’t have to pay  tax during term time. However, if they do get a bill they have to let the local authority know that they are in full-time education. To be considered as a full-time student their course must be at least a year long and involve at least 21 hours of study per week. If the tenants are studying for a qualification and are under 20 the course must be at least three months long and involve at least 12 hours per week. Again each individual council is different.


Your property is only considered derelict if it is:

  • Impossible to live in, for example, due to weather, riot, rot or vandalism
  • It would need major structural work to be wind and water tight again.

You can challenge your band if you think a derelict property should be removed from the council tax valuation list.


When major home improvements have been ongoing the local council will inform you when you have to start paying council tax. You will get a “completion notice” that tells you the dates you must start paying from. If you have any queries regarding your tax we would suggest that you speak to your local authority. Each individual council has the right to change the council tax rules within their district. It is important that you understand the applicable rules.

If you wish to have more information regarding the rules please read our previous article, click here.

See all News Posts
google-review Review
17:30 22 Feb 24
Have been very accommodating and helpful when calling agents. They have been very helpful in being able to secure a house for students.
16:42 21 Feb 24
Went above and beyond to get things sorted for me
Brittany Stace
Brittany Stace
11:18 24 Jan 24
Harringtons have been incredibly helpful and supportive of us as new renters and they have been super efficient in getting all of the documents sent through and signed in such a short period of time. Thank you!
Georgie Prebble
Georgie Prebble
20:36 05 Jan 24
Jade Innes
Jade Innes
10:24 04 Jan 24
So far the service has been good. The staff are very friendly and quick to respond to any questions and requests.
Polly Smith
Polly Smith
11:17 28 Dec 23
we chose this letting agents as they chose a good bills company that is much cheaper than other agents. When viewing houses the staff were very friendly and have been very helpful in answering our questions and making the process as easy as possible.
Emma Howe
Emma Howe
16:06 14 Nov 23
I would rate Harringtons Lettings a 5/5. Very lovely on the phone and very quick and easy to communicate with via email. Any problems have been resolved in no time at all. So far so good!I found Harringtons via Rightmove.
Akwisitions Feedback
Akwisitions Feedback
16:25 30 Oct 23
Very responsive and super helpful throughout the process. Highly recommended!
Chloe Ballard
Chloe Ballard
17:28 02 Oct 23
Although I have only been renting with Harringtons for a short period of time, I have had nothing but a positive experience. From viewing to admin updates. The admin team especially are very polite and quick to respond and I have no doubt that the rest of my tenancy will run smoothly. I would recommend to anyone considering renting in brighton.
Matthew Ball
Matthew Ball
11:46 19 Sep 23
Professional communication with tenant although entirely impersonal. There was a bigger disconnect in their communication with the landlord in most cases, which seemed to be either slow or non-existent (discovered after contacting the landlord directly).Property was full of spider webs on day 1 despite apparently being professionally cleaned. Took a day off of work to clean it on move out day, leaving it cleaner than when it received but still had to pay part of the deposit for professional cleaning.It has been a while since I have rented, but I'll avoid letting agencies completely now if this is anything close to the average renting experience.
Ronan SK
Ronan SK
12:38 12 Sep 23
Great professionalism/communciation from the start up until the end of my tenancy. Definitely set the standards for what agencies should be like. Highly recommend to those within Brighton.
Daniel Sutton
Daniel Sutton
10:29 24 Aug 23
I have rented with Harringtons Lettings before and have always found the agents to be quick, efficient, friendly and helpful. I loved their service so much I have chosen to rent with Harringtons again. Faultless 😊
See All Reviews
Get in Touch

Send a message to a member of our team and we'll be happy to answer your questions!

Send a Message

Register for Property Alerts

Let us know what you're looking for and we'll email you with matching properties when they become available.

Make an Enquiry

Please complete the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.