Postponing payment pending sale and council tax reductions in special circumstances (Section 13A)

Delay payment pending the sale of a property

If you are struggling to make payment of the council tax for a property which is due to be sold we are able to consider delaying payment until the sale completes providing we have a letter of undertaking from a solicitor confirming that payment will be made from the proceeds of the sale. Please use our Contact Us form selecting the dropdown ‘supply some evidence’. You will need to attach the solicitor’s letter and confirm why you are requesting that payment is postponed. We will consider your request and get back to you.

Before you apply for a Section 13A Council Tax reduction

Before applying, you must be able to demonstrate you have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the problems that are causing you to apply for the reduction.

  • apply for any other types of Council Tax reduction you might be able to get.
  • see if you can reduce your Council Tax by challenging your Council Tax band, if you have grounds to do so. If you feel that the property is in such a dilapidated condition that it no longer exists as a dwelling you may want to contact the Valuation Office Agency to investigate whether they will remove the property from council tax.This could apply for example where a property has extensive damage to external walls, no roof etc.

There are many organisations that can offer free support and advice if you are struggling with your finances. See our help with budgeting, money and debt advice page.

If you are unable to demonstrate you have explored the relevant points above your application will not be considered.

Examples of some circumstances where you will not be entitled to Section 13A

  • where the council considers that there are unnecessary expenses and debts and that the applicant has not taken reasonable steps to reduce these
  • where the council tax payer has assets or savings that could reasonably be used to pay the council tax. This includes payment being made from proceeds of sale
  • to cover any increase in the council tax payable due to the failure by the applicant to notify changes in their circumstances in a timely manner, where the applicant has failed to act correctly or honestly or where the applicants own improvidence, actions or inaction have been a major contributing factor.
  • where there is recourse for financial compensation or where an insurance policy would cover the appropriate liability period.
  • as a means to reduce or remit council tax which can recovered by the various enforcement methods available.

Council Tax reductions in exceptional circumstances (Section 13A)

We can, in exceptional circumstances, give a short-term Council Tax discretionary reduction to alleviate hardship. This is called a Section 13A reduction because it comes under Section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act.

Section13A reductions are for short term periods only. The amount and period of any reduction awarded is entirely discretionary.

The financial burden of awarding a Section 13A discount must be met through an increase in the general level of council tax for other payers, therefore the granting of Section 13A discounts will only be made in exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional situations might include for example where fire or flood damage means you must move out of the property and your insurance company will not cover the costs of additional council tax payable if you move to a rental property whilst works are carried out.

We will look at each case on its own merits and will consider various of factors which may include some of the following considerations:

  • entitlement to all other eligible discounts / reliefs / income / welfare benefits must have been explored/claimed before making a claim for Section 13A.
  • you must evidence that the application is for exceptional circumstances, which are unexpected and unforeseen.
  • we must be satisfied that the applicant has taken or will be taking all reasonable steps to resolve the situation (for example consideration of moving to a lower banded property or lowering the price of a property for sale).
  • the amount outstanding must not be the result of wilful refusal to pay or culpable neglect. Arrears built-up as a result of non-payment will not qualify for this reduction.
  • the taxpayer must not have access to other assets that could be used towards their council tax liability.
  • whether the situation can be resolved by some other legitimate means for example postponing payment pending sale or extending instalments.
  • any social or health issues currently being faced by the resident and/or their immediate family. For example, the effect the situation is having on vulnerable members of the family.
  • other evidence in support of an application (such as information from professional bodies, eg a doctor or social worker).
  • where applicable, confirmation of what information/advice has been sought and obtained previously, for example from the C.A.B or other welfare organisations, see help with budgeting, money and debt advice.

Applying for a Section 13A Council Tax reduction

What you need to do

Provide all relevant information to support your application, such as rental arrears, mortgage statements, financial statement and or any relevant supporting documentation together with a completed financial statement (PDF, 241KB)

If you are applying because of fire or flood damage, you will need to send full details of the damage plus evidence such as reports, photographs and written confirmation from your insurance company that they will not cover any additional Council Tax payable.

Before applying make sure you have all of the relevant documentation, then use our contact us form to submit a claim.

You can upload documents to send with your application.

You must keep paying your Council Tax while you wait to hear from us.

What happens next

We will only be able to assess the claim if you have provided all the relevant information to support your application.

We will notify you of the decision. If we decide not to give you the reduction, we will tell you how to challenge this.

Other short term help we can give people in difficult circumstances

You might be able to get emergency assistance if you are facing immediate problems. If you get housing benefit and need extra help to pay the rent, see discretionary housing payments.

Contact us

Page last reviewed: 22 December 2021