While it’s a common assumption that empty properties are still subject to council tax, there are actually several ways to sidestep or reduce the cost. Here, we look at some possible scenarios where you may not be required to pay council tax on an empty property.
Why might a property be left unoccupied?
An unoccupied property probably isn’t as common as you think. Figures have the current number of empty homes in the UK at a little over 670,000. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as the owner renovating the property, which could make it temporarily uninhabitable.
Other reasons could be the owner going through the process of selling or renting it out. Then there are those who need to be away for work commitments, long-term travellers or people undergoing medical treatment. It’s also not uncommon for a property to be empty because it’s a second home.
How long can I leave a property unoccupied for?
There’s no specific legal limit on how long a property can remain vacant in the UK. However, most insurance providers typically offer coverage for an empty property for a period ranging from 30 to 60 days.
Do I need to pay the council tax on an unoccupied property?
As the property owner, you’re obligated to pay the annual council tax, even if the property is unoccupied. The costs incurred for an empty property are generally the same as those for an occupied or rented one.
Are there any ways to avoid paying council tax on an unoccupied property?
There are a few ways in which you can avoid paying council tax on an unoccupied property. Let’s take a look at the options at your disposal in more detail.
Newly empty and unfurnished properties
Let’s say that your property has recently become empty and is unfurnished, perhaps because a tenant just moved out. In this case, you may be eligible for a short-term exemption, usually for a period of up to one month. The exact timeline, however, varies depending on the local council.
Properties undergoing major repairs
Your property may become uninhabitable due to significant repairs and renovations taking place. In this scenario, you may be exempt from council tax for a specific period. Again, the length largely depends on the local authority where the property is located.
Homes owned by a charity
Properties that are owned but not occupied by charities can qualify for a long-term exemption from council tax.
If you decide to rent out your property, the incoming tenants will take on the responsibility of paying the council tax based on your property’s rate band. This is a straightforward method to sidestep council tax payments while you don’t live in the property.
Empty properties of deceased owners
When handling the sale of a property for a deceased owner, you’re not required to pay council tax as long as the property stays vacant and until probate is granted. Once you’ve secured probate, you might qualify for an additional six-month council tax exemption if the property meets certain criteria, such as whether it’s still unoccupied or is in the name of the person who died.
A property is deemed derelict if it’s uninhabitable, perhaps due to weather damage, decay, or vandalism. Additionally, if the property requires significant structural repairs to make it secure against the elements, it’s also considered derelict.
A property guardian is an individual who resides in your unoccupied home. They’ll cover the rent and take on the responsibility for the council tax. This arrangement not only helps you sidestep council tax payments but also ensures your property isn’t vacant, reducing the risk of vandalism or burglary.
Why do most empty properties require council tax?
Council tax on vacant properties serves as an incentive for owners to put them back into use, especially given the UK’s housing shortage. The government levies this tax to motivate property owners to make these homes available. Additionally, even if a property is vacant, it still benefits from local services like policing, which is why council tax remains applicable.
Are there any discounts for council tax on unoccupied properties?
There may be some scenarios where you’re eligible for a discount, even if it’s temporary. You can always see if you qualify for a council tax reduction by reaching out to the local council and telling them your situation. While this won’t eliminate the tax entirely, it can make it more manageable financially.
What is classed as an empty property?
In most cases, an empty property under the eyes of a council is one that isn’t anyone’s primary residence and isn’t considered a second home. To incur any empty house council tax, your property should also be unfurnished.
While there’s no legal definition for ‘unfurnished’, a furnished property is generally expected to include items like beds, clothing storage, chairs or a sofa, a cooker or microwave and a fridge freezer.
Should I sell an unoccupied property?
Empty homes typically take longer to sell than those that are occupied, and studies indicate that such properties sell for an average of 6% less than their occupied counterparts. This is mainly because potential buyers often assume you’re eager to sell quickly to dodge council tax on an unoccupied property.
Consequently, they feel more confident in making lower offers. Additionally, homes generally appear less appealing when they’re unfurnished. So, if you want to sell an unoccupied property without the stress of putting it on the traditional market and needing to show up for viewings, give Property Rescue a try.
We offer a hassle-free solution for selling unoccupied homes. With our quick cash offers and completion in as little as 48 hours, you can avoid the prolonged selling process and potential council tax burdens. At Property Rescue, we ensure your empty property is off your hands swiftly, saving you time and money.
Summary: No council tax
In most cases, you will be required to pay council tax on an unoccupied property. There are, however, some ways to prolong the process or avoid it altogether. If you’re selling the property, using Property Rescue can make all the difference, as we’ll buy your home fast to help you avoid paying the council tax. Get a free, no-obligation quote today and see how much we’ll buy your home for.