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Changes to Council Tax discounts for empty properties

The Government suggested that councils introduce changes to Council Tax discounts and exemptions in respect of certain empty properties to encourage owners to get these properties occupied quicker. These changes in legislation started on 1 April 2013.

The Council reviewed the Government’s proposals and took into account the required financial savings for the new Council Tax Reduction Scheme that replaced Council Tax Benefit, and the need to bring empty homes back into use quickly.

As a result, the Council agreed a set of changes to Council Tax discounts and exemptions from 1 April 2013.

What do the changes mean?

This means some Council Tax payers have to pay more Council Tax, for example:

  • Owners of second homes
  • Owners of empty properties
  • Owners of properties that will have been empty for two years or more at 1 April 2013
  • Anyone who owns a property that is in need of, or awaiting major works or structural repair, and remained empty at 1 April 2013

Our policy

Our policy with effect from 1 April 2013 is:

  • Replace the exemption that was available for up to 12 months in respect of an empty property which requires or is undergoing major structural repair or alteration to render it habitable (Class A), with a 75% discount for up to 12 months
  • Replace the exemption that was available for up to six months after a dwelling becomes unoccupied and unfurnished (Class C), with a 50% discount for up to six months
  • Replace the discount for medium term empty properties (six months to two years) which was 50% indefinitely, with a 10% discount
  • Remove the discount 50% discount on long term empty properties (over two years) and replace with 150% charge (unless you're in the Armed Forces, or the property is an annexe).
  • Other discounts and exemptions are not affected by these changes

FAQs

Why were these changes made?

  • To better reflect the costs of providing services to these properties and to encourage occupation of empty properties
  • To discourage property owners from leaving properties unoccupied for any length of time
  • To help fund the new Council Tax Reduction Scheme that will replace Council Tax Benefit

When did the changes take effect?

The new policies took effect from 1 April 2013. 

Are second home discounts affected?

Yes - any property that is furnished and is no-one's main residence will be charged 95% instead of 90%. For example if you are a landlord and you have a furnished let that is untenanted you will pay 95% charge.

Has the single person discount changed? 

No, this remains at 25%.

If my property becomes empty and unfurnished am I still entitled to an exemption?

No -  the Class C Exemption has been replaced with a 50% discount for up six months and even short vacant periods will attract a charge.

Are there any properties that will still only pay 50% indefinitely?

Yes, if you have to live in a second property that is provided by your employer such as publicans or caretakers you may be eligible to pay 50% on one of the properties. Or, if all residents of a property fall into a disregarded category such as apprentices then the 50% discount will still apply for as long as the terms of the discount are met. 

The property is being rebuilt substantial structural works are taking place what can I do?

The Valuation Office (VOA) can delete a band if the works are of a substantial nature and the property is being rebuilt or structurally altered. Please refer to the VOA for more information.

What we cannot change

We are sometimes asked why we do not charge Council Tax to certain people, or why we do not give exemptions to other people. The answer is that most of the Council Tax rules are set by government legislation and we do not have the power to change them.

Here are a few examples of things that we have no discretion to change:

  • Decisions about whether a property is liable or not for Council Tax and the band that it is in (it is the government's Valuation Office Agency that decides this)
  • The rules around who is liable to pay Council Tax
  • The amount of the Sole Occupier Discount (25%) or criteria for claiming it
  • The rules around other properties being exempt from Council Tax eg, where the owner has died or in a nursing home
  • The rules around other properties being allowed a discount from Council Tax eg, where certain occupants are students, carers or severely mentally impaired.
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0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ