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Does a landlord have to pay council tax on an empty property?

Does a landlord have to pay council tax on an empty property?
Does a landlord have to pay council tax on an empty property?

If you’re the owner or landlord of a residential property which is currently empty, you might be wondering – do you have to pay council tax on an empty property?

Despite a few exceptions, most landlords will be liable for the council tax on empty properties. In this article, we’ll explain the government regulations on UK council tax for empty properties, as well as some of the exemptions for which your property may be eligible.

Does a landlord have to pay council tax on an empty property?

In short – yes. When your property is occupied by residents, the responsibility for paying the council tax falls on the shoulders of those residents. However, when your residents’ lease is up, you’ll once again be responsible for paying your property’s council tax bill in full. However, there may be some leeway for landlords to obtain council tax relief if they’re sitting on an empty property. (I’ll get to that further on in the article.)

In the past, you could be offered up to a 50% discount on your council tax bill if your property was empty (and unfurnished.) However, as the housing shortage continues to impact Britain, most councils will now severely penalise empty properties – regardless of how long the property has been empty. Many councils in England will penalise long-term empty properties by doubling or even tripling your council tax bill, and these premiums are bound to increase the longer your property remians empty.

That being said, it’s important to point out that council tax rules on empty properties may vary depending on your local council. In order to get clued up about the rules where you are (or where your property is), you’ll need to read up on your local council’s policy when it comes to empty properties.

Do I pay more council tax if my property is empty?

As the UK’s housing crisis seems to deepen and the housing shortage intensifies, councils are clamping down on long-term empty properties. As of April 2021, local councils are now able to charge landlords a 200% premium tacked onto their council tax bill if their property has been empty and unfurnished for over 2 years. Councils have the right to increase these premiums the longer your property remains empty: for example, if your property has been empty and unfurnished for over 10 years in Bournemouth, you’ll be eligible for a 400% increase on your yearly council tax. If you don’t want your council to present you with a massive bill at the end of the year, it’s best to let out your property as soon as possible.

However, if leasing your property isn’t an option for you at the moment, there are a number of exemptions when it comes to paying council tax on an empty property.

Can you avoid paying council tax on an empty property?

There are a number of exceptional circumstances where a landlord is not required to pay council tax on an empty property:

Refurbishment and Renovation

If your property is empty due to ongoing renovations and refurbishments, your local council may be willing to offer a discount on your council tax. This will come down to the discretion of your local council, as well as the motivation for the refurbishments. If your refurbishments are being carried out for the purpose of letting the property as soon as the work is complete, you’re more likely to land a discount on your council tax.

Inhabitable Property

If your property has sustained significant damage from fire, flooding, electricity malfunctions or other forms of damage, you may have a case for reducing your council tax bill on an empty property. In order for your application to be considered, you’ll first need to prove that the damage makes it impossible for tenants to take up occupancy.

If the property owner recently died

If the property owner recently died and you were next of kin, you won’t be obliged to pay council tax on the property until after a 6-month probate period has passed.

Short-Term Unoccupancy

The easiest way to avoid paying council tax on an empty property is to keep it empty for the shortest time possible. Some councils will be willing to offer you 1 months’ worth of council tax relief after the end of a lease, after which you’ll be liable for the full bill. Don’t forget that as of April 2021, councils can apply tax surcharges as early as two years into an inoccupancy period. Overall, the best financial decision is to let out your property, leaving it empty for as little time as possible.

Find out more about vacant property rules

If you’re new to the nuances of vacant property, get in touch with Clearway today and enquire about our vacant property services. We’re experts in empty property security and property management inspection, offering everything from temporary alarms to metal security doors and screens.

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