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Council tax : empty properties

Published Friday, April 28, 2017

Certain council tax discounts have been awarded at the discretion of local authorities, in England, since 1 April 2013. The 'empty homes premium', allowing up to 150% council tax on long-term empty properties, was introduced at the same time. This note outlines the changes that have taken place.

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From 1 April 2013, billing authorities in England took on additional powers over certain council tax discounts. “Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished” properties may receive a discount of between 0% and 100% of their council tax. Properties which are vacant and are undergoing “major repair work” or “structural alteration” can attract a discount of between 0% and 50%, for a maximum of 12 months.

A 50% discount is mandatory on second homes where the liable person is required as part of his/her employment to live in job-related accommodation; and on unoccupied caravans and boat moorings.

From 1 April 2013, local authorities in England may also set an ‘empty homes premium’ for long-term empty properties. Properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over two years may be charged up to 150% of the normal liability. In Scotland, the premium may be applied after one year and the total charge may be up to 200% of the normal liability. In Wales, provisions equivalent to those in Scotland are awaiting commencement by the National Assembly.

Commons Briefing papers SN02857

Author: Mark Sandford

Topics: Empty property, Housing, Local government, Taxation

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