Landlords With Empty Properties Are Entitled To Council Tax Exemption

Empty Room

IMPORTANT UPDATE: This article is now out-of-date, and landlords may not be entitled to council tax exemption. Please read my new blog post which discusses the new Council Tax Support Scheme

A month or so ago I had a tenant check out of tenancy so I was waiting for new arrivals. However, before I got new tenants to move in, I needed a one week window to coat the entire property with a lick of fresh paint. Consequently, the property was going to be empty for that short period. The key point to remember is that when tenants move out and then move into a new residency, as soon as they register their new details with the council, the council tax liability for your property falls back onto the homeowner. But that’s ok, because in those circumstances, Landlords are entitled to council tax exemption for a period of 6 months.

If at any point your BTL property is going to be empty, for whatever reason, I strongly advise you to notify your local council tax office and inform them so you’re entitled to council tax exemption. Otherwise you’ll unnecessarily end up paying council tax on an empty property.

I made the mistake a few years ago of failing to inform my local council tax office when having an empty BTL. To be honest, I didn’t really think anything of the council tax, I was just waiting for the new tenants to move in and register their new residential details.

A month down the line, I received a bill for about £50, to cover the 2 week period where the property remained empty.

Here’s a full list of ways you can be exempted from property council tax:
  • Class A: New or requiring/undergoing structural alteration or major repair and for up to six months after completion. This is only limited to one year.
  • Class B: Owned by a charity (exempt for up to six months).
  • Class C: Unfurnished (exempt for up to six months)
  • Class D: the occupier has gone into prison
  • Class E: the occupier is now being permanently cared for in hospital
  • Class I: the occupier is now in a nursing home or care home.
  • Class F: Waiting for probate or letters of administration to be granted and
  • Class FB: for up to six months after
  • Class G: Empty because occupation is forbidden by law
  • Class H: Waiting to be occupied by a minister of religion
  • Class J: Left empty by someone who has moved to provide personal care to another person
  • Class K: Empty but owned and last used by a student
  • Class L: repossessed
  • Class Q: The responsibility of a bankrupt’s trustee
  • Class R: Vacant domestic caravan plots and houseboat moorings
  • Class T: Granny annexes etc – separate letting not allowed by planning control

My property falls under “Class C”- unfurnished property. However, I’m not sure how the council know whether the property is furnished or not? Mine actually is unfurnished, but the council never asked me either way.

You’re also exempt if if your property is occupied only by:
  • Class N: Full-time students (and certain non-UK spouses/dependants)
  • Class O: Armed forces’ barracks and married quarters. Their occupants will contribute to the cost of local services through a special arrangement.
  • Class S: Persons under 18 years of age
  • Class U: Persons who are severely mentally impaired or live with a student(s)
  • Class V: Diplomats and members of certain international bodies (including their non-UK spouses)
  • Class W: Certain dependent relatives in a separate dwelling forming part of a larger property (eg granny annexes)
Contacting Your Local Council Tax Office

In order to get your property exempt from council tax, you need to contact your local Council Tax Office. Some councils can arrange the exemption over the phone, others will require you to fill in a form, which they will post to you.

To find your local Council Tax Office contact details, just Google something like “[enter your town] council tax office”. That’s how I got the details for my local tax office anyways.

I just wanted to jot this down incase someone happens to find it useful.

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12 Comments- join the conversation...

Guest Avatar
peter trower 21st March, 2009 @ 08:50

Thank you for your comment but doesnt this only apply if the flat is unfurnished? If furnished then you still have to pay council tax yes (as in my case)?
Peter

1
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 21st March, 2009 @ 09:16

Yeah, that's right. I should have mentioned that.

My only question is, how could the council know if the property is unfurnished?

My house is unfurnished, but when I phoned the council, they never asked me if it was furnished or not.

Kind regards

2
Guest Avatar
peter trower 21st March, 2009 @ 11:23

Thank you, that's a useful tip as well!

3
Guest Avatar
Hilary 13th January, 2010 @ 03:41

I bought a house at auction which was uninhabitable and had been for four years. I am in the course of completely refurbishing it with new d.p.c. Complete re-wiring. Central heating. Floors ! New Bathroom and a kitchen. It had NONE of the above before I bought it.
Council say that exemption was applied February 2006 but that I have to pay now since I bought it in October 2009 because the 12 month period has lapsed.
I am contesting paying the council tax because at least I am in the process of doing something about making it habitable rather it just having been left under the uninhabitable regulation for a minimum of 2.5 years.
Any comment ?
Thanks
Hilary

4
Guest Avatar
FRAN 10th July, 2010 @ 10:34

Hi all, I am having problems re council tax, I let my property last year through a rental agency, I advised the agent that I wanted a minimum of 12months the agent managed to find me a tenant but explainrd that it was a company let so could only sign for 6 months but would def be staying the 12 months anyway, on month 7 the tenant moved out he had bought a house but did continue to pay rent and retained keys until month 9 when he released the keys to me and I returned his bond, shortly after this I recieved a council tax bill, it was for Dec 09 when the tenant vacated to April 10, and also April 10 to April 11 I advised that the property was unoccupied and unfurnished that the tenant who had left in Dec was contracted until Feb and had the keys I had no access to the property and couldnt legaly relet until end of contract Feb 10, as I was living abroad and the property was unfurnished, the council took me to court and I recieved a summons plus court costs totaling ova £3000 including over £200 in court costs the council advised me that I was not entiteled to exemption for unoccupid and unfurnished as this Is my main residence, I asked how they have come to that conclusion, they have said its because this is my address on my experian report my property has now been relet for a further 2 years and I have recieved an amended bill due to a change in cercumstance £900 including court costs as my first tenant was contracted to 21 Feb 2010 and the property was relet 14 june 2010 anyone knows how the law stands on this

5
Guest Avatar
Jools 10th July, 2010 @ 11:37

I think you will find that the only way you will get an exemption on your own property is for structural works where the house is uninhabitable and there is no kitchen. You would have to prove uninhabitability (?).

You would have to check with your local council regarding their criteria for exemption. If your bill is now £900 I would pay it - you are never going to beat the system when it comes to council tax.

Jools

6
Guest Avatar
colin 3rd December, 2010 @ 12:35

me and my wife are paying morgage on a house we had to move home due to disability into a housing association we pay rent and council tax on this property i could no longer live in preeeeeeeieviuos house as irt was unsutable we were rehoused into a two bed bungalow for the disabled and for the elderly my wife is sixty five im sixty in reciet incapacity long term and dla mob high rate and care high rate do we have to pay council tax onthe property thats emty thank you

7
Guest Avatar
Jools 3rd December, 2010 @ 18:16

Colin - unless you fall into the criteria laid out by your local council then the answer is yes. I dont understand how you have been moved into a housing association when you own your own property?

Surely yoy will be required to sell this property?

You need to contact your local council or housing officer for advice.

Jools

8
Guest Avatar
Iain 17th January, 2012 @ 12:12

Hi, my wifes flat was empty from Aug to Dec as we were selling the place with the previous tenant moving out in August. She notified the council in October and they are chasing her for unpaid tax as they claim they don't have proof the property was empty, we have utility bills showing next to no charge for the period, does anyone have any suggestions please?

Help!

Iain.

9
Guest Avatar
Ange 16th February, 2012 @ 16:53

Hi, I too am having problems with the council tax on my recently purchased house which is currently empty. I informed the local council offices when I bought it and was told I wouldn't have to pay the council tax as long as it remained empty for up to 6 months. However I am now receiving bills as they say the previous owner had already claimed for 6 months council tax free. However the previous owner went bankrupt and that is why the council tax was not paid.
Does anyone know where I stand please?

10
Guest Avatar
Bob Edmo 16th October, 2013 @ 06:01

I live in my main residence house A, i am renovating a property in the same town where i live which has taken me over a year so far house B. i am already paying coucil tax for house A, hence paying for local authorities etc, so why should i have to pay twice, it's just not fair. i could see the point of paying council tax if it was a holiday home or in a different council borough. what would happen if i took it to court ?

11
Guest Avatar
marie greenall 2nd June, 2014 @ 21:36

I got my house keys feb but only moved in may what happens with council tax for me now

12

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