IMPORTANT UPDATE: This article is now out-of-date, and landlords may not be entitled to council tax exemption.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.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger, I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any advice I give is my opinion based on my experience, and is never legal or professional advice. You should always get professional advice on any legal and financial matters!