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Second homes and empty properties

A second home is a property that:

  • isn't used as the main home by anyone;
  • is still furnished.

An empty property is one that:

  • isn't used as the main home by anyone;
  • is unfurnished.

Depending on how long the property has been left empty, you may have to pay additional Council Tax.

Council Tax charges on an empty property

Council Tax charges on empty homes and second properties
CategoryCouncil Tax charge
Properties that are unoccupied and furnished (second homes)Full Council Tax charge
Properties that are unoccupied, unfurnished and undergoing major repairs or structural workNo Council Tax charge for the first month while the work is carried out. Full Council Tax charge after the first month ends
Properties that are unoccupied and unfurnishedNo Council Tax charge for first month that the property is empty. Full Council Tax charge after the first month ends
Properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two yearsTwice full Council Tax charge
Properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than five yearsThree times full Council Tax charge
Properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than 10 yearsFour times full Council Tax charge

Full Council Tax charge - this means you cannot apply for any other reductions. For example, if a single person owns an unoccupied property, there is no 25 per cent single person discount.

Timescales for increased charges are based on how long the property has been empty and do not change if someone else becomes responsible for the Council Tax. For example, if you buy a property that has been empty for 21 months, your Council Tax bill will double after an additional three months if the property remains unoccupied as a main home.

Empty properties with no Council Tax charge

You won't have to pay Council Tax if your property is empty for one of the following reasons:

  • Owned by a charity and last used for charity purposes, for up to six months
  • Occupier is in prison
  • Occupier is in hospital or a care home due to disability, illness or old age
  • Occupier has moved to provide personal care for another person
  • Owner or tenant has died, and the property has been continuously empty since the date of death, for up to six months after probate or letters of administration
  • Occupation is prohibited by law
  • Caravan pitch or boat mooring
  • Awaiting occupation by a minister of religion
  • Last occupied by a student who is the freeholder or tenant
  • Repossessed or under the responsibility of a bankruptcy trustee
  • An annexe unable to be let under planning regulations (for example, a granny annexe)
  • Accommodation for UK armed forces.

How to apply for a reduction

If you think there should be a reduction in your bill, please call 01442 228000.

If your circumstances change it's important you let us know as soon as possible. It could affect what you're entitled to. Failure to do so may result in a penalty.

Please note: the information on this page is intended as a guide and not a comprehensive statement of the law.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 March 2024 at 11:30 AM