Council Tax on an Unoccupied Property

12 June 2014

Council Tax is payable on all properties in England and Wales. The revenue generated from Council Tax contributes toward local services such as rubbish collection and policing.

Council Tax on an Unoccupied Property

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Unoccupied property owners: What you need to know about council tax

It applies to every type of accommodation, whether owned or rented, from flats and houses to mobile homes and houseboats. Whether you pay Council Tax will depend on a number of factors, but usually it is the responsibility of the person living in the home to pay the home's bill. Spouses or partners living together will have joint responsibility for paying the bill, but there are exemptions and discounts applicable to people in certain situations.

Liability

If you live in the property and own it, you will be the most liable person when it comes to paying the council tax for the property. Leaseholders living in a property are the next most liable parties for paying. A "statutory" or "secure" tenant would be the next most liable party, followed by those living in a property with permission (but no tenancy), followed by people living there without permission (i.e. squatters), followed by leaseholders who do not live in the property and (finally) the property's owner who does not live there. If you are under 18 then you cannot be responsible for paying a council tax bill and exemptions/discounts apply to certain groups (like full-time students).

Amount of council tax

The amount of Council Tax that you may be liable for paying depends on the valuation band your property falls into; in England these bands are not based on the current value of your home, but on the valuations made on the 1st of April 1991 (in Scotland the bands are considerably different). Band A ranges in house values up to £40,000 in England, while in Wales they range up to £44,000, at the lower end of the spectrum. The highest end of the spectrum in England is in Band H for homes valued over £320,000, and Band I in Wales for homes valued £424,001 (and above). How much you actually pay though will vary according to the area in which you live, as each local council sets its own Council Tax rates.

Empty properties

Empty properties are often subject to slightly different rules and the person responsible for paying may also be eligible for exemption or discount (depending on your circumstances). Unoccupied properties that are largely unfurnished can be exempt from Council Tax for up to six months, while properties undergoing major repair (to make them habitable for occupation) can be exempt for up to 12 months as long as they remain empty for the entire time. At the end of the 12 month period, the property will no longer be exempt regardless of whether or not the repairs work is complete.

Insurance

If you have an unoccupied property, it is quite likely that you may encounter difficulties getting unoccupied insurance. Whether your home is unoccupied because it is between tenants or because it is your second home and only sees part time usage, obtaining adequate property insurance unoccupied cover can often be problematic. Many insurers are reluctant to insure an unoccupied property because of the extra risk it faces. With HomeProtect you can get a competitive online quote for   or holiday home insurance, no matter how long your property remains empty for.

More reading

Citizens Advice Bureau - Council tax information. - Information on council tax including valuation bands, discounts and reductions, how to pay, arrears and the appeals system.

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How many properties are empty in the UK at present? What is an EDMO? What issues arise during probate? What is classified as long-term unoccupancy?

All these questions and more are answered in our unoccupied property article directory, a taster of which can be found in the links to the right.

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