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Council Tax charges for empty properties and second homes

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Government, together with local authorities have seen a rise in the number of empty properties together with a growth in second homes.

In order to bring more dwellings into use and address inconsistencies in legislation, regarding Council Tax premium avoidance, the government has introduced sections (79 and 80) within the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (the Act).

The regulations are expected soon and are expected to include some exceptions for the second homes premium. These are expected as a result of the consultation (which has now ended) seeking views on possible categories of dwellings which should be dealt with as exceptions to the premiums.

Details of the proposed exceptions will be found in our Empty Homes and Second Homes Premium Policy 2024-25, which will soon be published.

Empty properties

Unoccupied properties, uninhabitable properties undergoing repair and newly constructed properties do not receive any Council Tax discount. Council Tax is charged on properties that are unoccupied, unfurnished or undergoing major works.

A property is unoccupied when it is nobody's sole or main home (place of residence).

In 2018, the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act was introduced to enable local authorities to charge a premium on properties that had been empty and unfurnished more than 2 years. In 2023, the government introduced new legislation (the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (section 79 and 80) that permitted local authorities to impose an empty homes premium after one year instead of two. The Act provides that from 1 April 2024, a property can be charged an empty homes premium of 100% after one year, even if it becomes empty before 1 April 2024.

We have resolved to implement the change with effect from 1 April 2024. Charges and premiums on empty properties are detailed in the table below.

Percentage of Council Tax to be paid for unoccupied properties
Length of time empty Prior to 1 April 2024 From
1 April 2024
0 to 12 months 100% charge 100% charge
12 to 24 months 100% charge 200% charge
Over 2 years 200% charge 200% charge
Over 5 years 300% charge 300% charge
Over 10 years 400% charge 400% charge

Second homes

If your property is furnished and is not your sole or main home, or is between lets, you will not be entitled to a Council Tax discount unless the property is needed as part of your job.

A property is commonly referred to as a second home, when that property is owned or rented, in addition to a main home, it is substantially furnished, but is no-one’s main home. These are properties that are occupied periodically.

Section 80 (2) of the Act inserts a new section 11C into the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This permits us to apply a premium on periodically occupied properties (second homes). The maximum Council Tax charge in these cases would be a standard 100% charge plus a premium of 100%, making a total Council Tax charge of 200%

We have resolved to charge second home premiums and have given the required notice. Second properties will be charged as detailed in the table below.

Prior to 1 April 2025 From 1 April 2025
100% charge 200% charge

New properties

For newly constructed properties, or properties created due to structural alterations, no discounts are available if the property remains unoccupied and unfurnished. Council Tax must be paid from the completion date.

We'll send you a notice stating the date from which we consider the property should be treated as substantially completed.

This change may cause you some financial pressures, and we may be able to assist you with advice and guidance about returning your property to use. We can advise on selling, bringing it up to a habitable standard to occupy yourself, or putting it onto the rental market.

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