Understanding Council Tax Exemptions

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  • 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 For instance, Brighton and Hove City Council have now withdrawn the discount meaning that the full tax is due.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.

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