Council Tax on Empty Properties: What You Need to Know


Navigating the intricacies of council tax can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding the implications for empty properties. Whether you are a homeowner with an unoccupied property, a landlord between tenants, or considering purchasing a property that might be vacant for a period, it is essential to understand how council tax on empty properties works in the UK. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive guide on the subject, covering key regulations, exemptions, and financial implications.

What is Council Tax?

Council tax is a local taxation system in the UK, used to fund local services such as rubbish collection, policing, and schools. It is typically levied on domestic properties, and the amount payable is determined by the property’s valuation band, which is based on its estimated value as of April 1, 1991. Each local council sets its own council tax rates, and these can vary significantly across different regions.

Council Tax on Empty Properties

Council tax is generally payable on all domestic properties, including those that are unoccupied. However, the amount of council tax charged on an empty property can differ depending on several factors, including the length of time the property has been empty and any applicable exemptions or discounts.

Standard Charges

In most cases, empty properties are subject to the full rate of council tax. However, local councils have the discretion to offer discounts or charge higher rates depending on the circumstances surrounding the property’s vacancy.

Long-Term Empty Properties

For properties that have been empty and substantially unfurnished for more than two years, councils have the power to impose a council tax premium. As of April 1, 2019, local authorities can charge up to 100% extra council tax on properties empty for between two and five years. For properties empty for more than five years, this premium can increase to 200%, and for those empty for more than ten years, it can rise to 300%.

Short-Term Empty Properties

If a property is empty for a short period, councils may offer a discretionary discount or exemption. The specifics can vary widely depending on the local authority’s policies. Some councils offer a discount for the first month or six months a property is empty, while others may provide no discount at all.

Exemptions and Discounts

There are several exemptions and discounts available for empty properties under certain conditions. Understanding these can help property owners manage their council tax liabilities more effectively.


1. Uninhabitable Properties: Properties undergoing major repairs or structural alterations may be exempt from council tax for up to 12 months, or until the work is completed, whichever comes first. After this period, the full council tax or a premium rate may apply.

2. Bereavement: If a property is empty because the owner has died, it is exempt from council tax until probate is granted and for up to six months afterwards, as long as it remains unoccupied and has not been sold or transferred to a beneficiary.

3. Properties Owned by Charities: Properties owned by registered charities can be exempt from council tax for up to six months if they are empty.

4. Repossessed Properties: Properties that have been repossessed by a mortgage lender are exempt from council tax until they are sold.


1. Unoccupied and Furnished Properties: Some councils may offer a discount if a property is unoccupied but furnished. The level of discount can vary, so it is important to check with your local authority.

2. Second Homes: Properties that are not the owner’s main residence but are furnished and used occasionally may qualify for a discount, although the availability and amount of this discount depend on local council policies.

3. Job-Related Accommodation: If you are required to live in accommodation provided by your employer, your main home may qualify for a discount even if it is empty.

How to Apply for Exemptions or Discounts

Applying for council tax exemptions or discounts involves contacting your local council and providing necessary documentation to support your claim. This may include evidence of major repairs, proof of probate, or documentation from your employer if you are required to live in job-related accommodation.

Steps to Apply

1. Check Eligibility: Review the specific exemptions and discounts offered by your local council. Each council’s website will typically have detailed information about the available options.

2. Gather Documentation: Collect all relevant documents that support your claim. This could include building permits for major repairs, probate documentation, or employment contracts for job-related accommodation.

3. Submit Application: Complete the council’s application form for exemptions or discounts. This can often be done online or by post.

4. Follow Up: After submitting your application, follow up with the council to ensure it has been received and processed. Keep copies of all correspondence and documentation.

Financial Implications

Understanding the council tax implications of owning an empty property is crucial for financial planning. The additional costs associated with council tax premiums on long-term empty properties can be significant. It’s important to factor these costs into your budget, especially if you are a landlord or an investor with multiple properties.

Strategies to Minimise Costs

1. Rent Out the Property: If possible, renting out your property can help cover the council tax and other associated costs. This is particularly useful for long-term empty properties that may otherwise incur high council tax premiums.

2. Sell the Property: If maintaining an empty property becomes financially burdensome, selling it might be a viable option. This can help you avoid ongoing council tax liabilities and potentially generate a profit.

3. Use the Property: Occasionally using the property, such as turning it into a second home, might qualify it for different council tax rates or discounts. Check with your local council to understand how this might affect your liability.


Council tax on empty properties is a complex area with significant financial implications for property owners. By understanding the regulations, exemptions, and discounts available, you can better manage your council tax liabilities. Always check with your local council for specific policies and procedures, as these can vary widely. Whether you are a homeowner, landlord, or investor, staying informed and proactive about council tax on empty properties can help you make more strategic decisions and avoid unnecessary costs.

If you have any further questions or require assistance with selling or buying your home, don’t hesitate to contact Michael Anthony Estate Agents. Our team of experienced professionals is here to guide you through every step of the process, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience.

For personalised guidance on selling your property in the UK, consider consulting with Michael Anthony Estate Agents who can provide expert advice tailored to your specific circumstances.