Council Tax reductions for unoccupied properties

In most circumstances, you must pay Council Tax even when a property is unoccupied. If a property has been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for 2 years or more, there is an empty homes premium which means you pay 150% of the normal amount.

But there are some situations where we can give a Council Tax reduction. Reductions can be 100%, which means there is no Council Tax to pay. You must apply for a reduction if you think you shouldn't pay, and then keep paying until we confirm the reduction. Don't just stop paying.

You can ask us to backdate a reduction. We might ask for further information from you to help us decide how far we can backdate the reduction.

If someone else is helping you sort out your Council Tax, you can give us permission to talk to them by signing our  authority to disclose form (PDF, 82KB)

What happens after you apply for a Council Tax reduction

We'll get back to you to tell you whether or not you can get a reduction. This can take up to 20 working days. It might take longer if we have to visit the property or need more information.

You must let us know straight away if anything you've told us changes.

Reductions will show on your bill as for the whole year even when they are only for a fixed time period. We will send you a new bill when the reduction is coming to an end. If you think you should keep getting the reduction, you will need to apply again.

Unoccupied property reductions

You can apply for a Council Tax reduction when a property is unoccupied for any of the following reasons: 

A Council Tax payer who lived alone has died

You can claim a 100% reduction for a period after a person who lived alone in a property that they owned or rented dies. Council Tax becomes due again in any of the following circumstances:

  • someone else moves in
  • the property is passed to someone else
  • the property is sold, where the person who died was the property owner
  • the tenancy ends, where the person who died rented the property – the official tenancy end date might be agreed with the landlord allowing a few weeks to clear belongings, but it can sometimes depend on the terms of the tenancy agreement.

If none of these events happen, Council Tax then becomes due again six months after the date probate is granted.

On this date, the executors of the will must start to pay the Council Tax for the property. The money should come from the dead person's estate - executors aren't personally liable. They should contact us immediately if there's a problem with making the payment.

To apply for the 100% reduction, fill in our

online empty property exemption form.

The property is available on the rental market

Landlords with an unoccupied and unfurnished property available to let on the rental market can claim a 100% Council Tax reduction for the property for up to 8 weeks. We might know the property is empty and give you a reduction without you needing to apply, but we can't always guarantee we'll do this. If we don't give you the reduction automatically, you can apply by filling in our

online empty property discounts form.

The occupant has left in specific circumstances

There might be a 100% Council Tax reduction if no-one is living in a property and the person who usually lives there is any of the following:

  • living elsewhere to care for someone
  • living elsewhere to receive care
  • a full-time student living somewhere else
  • in prison
  • detained for mental health reasons
  • detained under immigration law
  • a trustee in a bankruptcy

These reductions can depend on whether the occupant was the owner or a tenant of the property. To apply, fill in our

online empty property exemption form.

Major repairs

If you are paying the Empty Homes Premium for a property and also doing major work that means no-one can live in the property, we can remove the 50% premium for up to 12 months. To apply for the reduction, download the major repairs (Class D) reduction form (PDF, 237KB)

Other specific situations apply to the property

You don't pay Council Tax when any of the following apply to an empty property:

  • it's been repossessed by a mortgage lender
  • it's owned by a charity and its most recent use was for charitable purposes - up to 6 months
  • no one is allowed by law to live in the property - for example, because of planning restrictions
  • a minister of religion is going to move in
  • it's a caravan pitch with no caravan or a boat mooring with no boat
  • it's an empty annexe that can't be let separately from the main home
  • it's being held as living accommodation for UK armed forces and is owned by the Secretary of State for Defence.

To apply for a reduction in any of these circumstances, fill in our

online empty property exemption form.

More information on unoccupied property Council Tax

For more information, you can contact the Council Tax team.