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Council Tax and unoccupied properties

If you own an empty property, Council Tax is normally payable. This applies to properties which are any of the following:

  • uninhabitable (in need of structural repair to make them fit to live in)
  • unoccupied (it is not important whether the property is furnished or not) 
  • second homes (another property is your main residence)
WarningYou may be liable for higher rate Council Tax, if the building has been empty for two years or more.
 If your property has been unoccupied for a long time

We now charge 200% Council Tax on properties that have been empty for two years or more, and 300% Council Tax for properties that have been empty for five or more years. This is with the aim of reducing the number of long-term empty properties in our area, so we can get as many as possible back into use for local people.

Please note that the extra charge applies to properties that are unfurnished or unoccupied. The 200% charge begins from the second anniversary of the property becoming empty and the 300% charge from the fifth anniversary. We apply these charges regardless of any change in ownership during that period. This means that if you buy a long-term empty property, you will become liable for the extra charge until the circumstances at the property change.

In some situations, when leaving a property unoccupied has been unavoidable, you may be eligible for an exemption from the Council Tax which is normally payable.

If you have been asked to complete an empty property review form, you can do this online.

Complete an empty property review form

Eligibility 

If a property becomes unoccupied in any of the following situations, you may be able to claim an exemption from Council Tax. Please note some exemptions are time limited. Please go to the relevant page for further details. 

Long-term care or hospitalisation

If you are receiving care in a hospital, care home or elsewhere for so long that we can no longer consider your home to be your main residence go to unoccupied property exemption (receiving care) to apply for a Council Tax exemption (Class E, I).

If you have left your property unoccupied to provide long-term care for someone else, please go to unoccupied property exemption (providing care) to apply for a Council Tax exemption (Class J).

After a death

If a property is left unoccupied following a death, go to the Probate exemption page (Class F).

Reserved for religious ministry

The property is kept unoccupied so that it will be available for a minister of religion to perform the duties of their office (Class H). If you are a member of a religious community, you may also qualify for a special Council Tax discount. To apply, you will need a letter from the head of the religious community, confirming the status of the building. 

Vacant student residence

The property is left unoccupied by a student who is living elsewhere because of their studies (Class K). To apply, you have to supply your student certificate and your term-time address.

Bankruptcy or repossession

The unoccupied property is the responsibility of a trustee in a bankruptcy, or has been repossessed by the mortgage lender (Class L). To apply for a Council Tax exemption, you will need a letter from the trustee or mortgage provider, confirming the status of the building.

Vacant pitch or mooring

The address is a caravan pitch or a houseboat mooring that is not currently occupied by a caravan or a boat (Class R). To confirm the status of the pitch or mooring, we will arrange to make a site visit.

Charity ownership

The unoccupied property belongs to a registered charity and was previously used by that charity (Class B). Please note that this exemption does not apply:

  • beyond a period of six months 
  • to new-build properties
  • to newly purchased properties
  • to properties which are owned by a charity, but let at full rental value

Flood, fire or vandalism

In some cases, we may be able to offer you short-term assistance towards your Council Tax bill, if your property becomes uninhabitable because of an unforeseen situation which is causing you particular financial difficulty (for example a flood, a fire, or vandalism by tenants). Please call us on 01225 477 777 or email us at counciltax@bathnes.gov.uk for further information.

Legal closure order

An empty property is exempt from Council Tax (Class G) if its occupation is (one of the following):

  • prohibited by law (for example, by a Prohibition Order from the local authority, or a Prohibition Notice from the fire authority)
  • restricted by a planning condition (under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990)
  • prohibited, pending a compulsory purchase, under an Act of Parliament

Before you apply

To apply for your Council Tax exemption, you will need:

  • to have your Council Tax account number. This is a seven or nine digit number, and you can find it in the top left hand corner of your Council Tax bill. If you are unsure, please view this example bill
  • evidence that you are eligible for the exemption. (Please check the notes above for details of any documents you will need to supply.)

Apply for an unoccupied property exemption

Next steps

  • We will support you through the process of application. If you have any queries or concerns, please use our online form to contact us.
  • When we have verified your details, we will issue a new Council Tax bill. You should receive this within 28 days.
  • The exemption will last from the date you inform us of the property. We cannot backdate claims.
  • Once the exemption period expires, a full Council Tax charge becomes payable.

Your responsibilities

  • After you have applied for your exemption, you must still pay the instalments on any Council Tax bill we have sent you, until we issue a new bill.
  • If you disagree with the amount of Council Tax we ask you to pay after we have processed your exemption, please use our online form to contact us.
  • We will check every year that you can still claim the exemption. You may receive a letter, asking you to confirm this. You must respond promptly to any letters you receive. We may cancel your discount or exemption if you do not reply when we contact you.
  • You must inform us immediately if your circumstances change (for example, you are no longer responsible for the property, or someone moves in).

Cancelling your unoccupied property Council Tax exemption

If your circumstances change, you may no longer be able to get the exemption. You must tell us immediately about any change. If you do not inform us, this might increase your bill.

Cancel your unoccupied property exemption

If your circumstances change in other ways, you may be eligible for a different Council Tax exemption. Find out about other benefits and additional support by following the links in the panel: More on Council Tax and Other benefits and services. 

Help to bring empty properties back into use

You can get help to bring your empty property back into use through the No Use Empty website. You can also contact the council's Empty Property Office by emailing empty_properties@bathnes.gov.uk or calling 01225 396411