Exempt properties

Sometimes you may not have to pay Council Tax on a property.

Most exemptions only apply when no one lives in a property, but sometimes occupied properties are exempt.

New owners of a vacant property

If you have recently bought property which has been unoccupied and unfurnished before you bought it, you are not allowed a full exemption.

The exemption began on the day the property became vacant and the previous owner will have used some of the exemption period. New owners are allowed the balance of the exemption unused by the previous owner.

If the previous owner used up the exemption period, the new owner will be charged from the date of purchase.

These rules also apply to new tenants who do not occupy the property from the tenancy start date.

Property in need of major repairs

From the 1 April 2013 this exemption is no longer available.

It is replaced with a 50% discount (for a maximum of 12 months) whilst the property is undergoing major renovation.

Unoccupied and owned by a charity

An unoccupied dwelling owned by a charity which was last occupied for the objectives of the charity, is exempt for 6 months from the date occupation ceased.

The charity must retain ownership and the dwelling must remain unoccupied.

Unoccupied and unfurnished

From 1 April 2013 the rule which exempts unfurnished and unoccupied properties for 6 months will be amended to the following:

Discounts for unfurnished and unoccupied properties.
Vacancy period
Percentage of Council Tax to be paid
0 - 1 month
No Council Tax to be paid for this period.
1 - 6 months
75%
6 - 24 months
100%
24+ months
150%
On 1 April 2013 any property which has been empty for more than 2 years will immediately be subject to the 150% Council Tax charge.

Prison

There is an exemption for unoccupied dwellings where the person who would be liable for Council Tax is in prison (except where the person is in prison for not paying Council Tax or a fine).

Care and care homes

Move to a care home

There is an exemption for unoccupied dwellings where the person who would be liable for Council Tax has left to live in a hospital, residential care home or hostel.

The person's main residence must be a hospital, care home or hostel.

Living elsewhere to receive personal care

Dwellings  are exempt where a person has gone to live with someone else in order to receive care, or has entered some other institution not regarded as a hospital or care home.

The person must be receiving care due to old age, disablement, illness, past or present alcohol or drug dependence, or past or present mental disorder.

The unoccupied dwelling must previously have been the sole or main residence of the person.

Left empty by a person providing personal care

This exemption applies where the owner or tenant has left a property unoccupied, having changed their place of residence in order to provide care for someone else.

The person must be receiving care due to old age, disablement, illness, past or present alcohol or drug dependence, or past or present mental disorder.

See also 'Living elsewhere to receive personal care' above.

Death

An unoccupied dwelling is exempt if the person who was liable for Council Tax has died, the property has remained unoccupied since the date of death, and probate has not been granted.

Exemption continues for up to 6 months after the grant of probate or after the letters of administration have been made.

Occupation prohibited by law

A dwelling is exempt if its occupation is prohibited by law, or if it is kept unoccupied by reason of action taken to prohibit occupation, or with a view to acquiring it, under powers conferred by any Act of Parliament.

Minister of religion

Dwellings which are being held available for a minister of religion, as a residence from which they will perform the duties of office, are exempt.

There is no requirement as to ownership of the property, and the exemption applies whether or not that particular dwelling was last used by a minister.

Students and young people

Left empty by a student

Where a student is the owner of an unoccupied dwelling, the property is exempt provided that when it was last occupied it was the sole or main residence of that student, and that only students lived there.

Halls of residence

Halls of residence for students are exempt provided the accommodation is owned or managed by a prescribed educational establishment.

The accommodation must be provided predominantly for students, which does not prevent part being used to accommodate staff or other persons.

Occupied only by students, or school or college leavers

Any dwelling which is occupied only by students and school or college leavers is exempt regardless of ownership or tenancy.

If the students leave the property unoccupied during vacations the exemption will continue if the students retain the right to occupy and have the intention to use the dwelling as term time accommodation.

All occupiers under 18

A property that is occupied wholly by persons under the age of 18 is exempt.

A note about full-time students

To be a full-time student you must meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in a course that lasts for at least one academic or calendar year (and you are required to attend at least 24 weeks per year and study at least 21 hours per week), or
  • You are under 20 and in a course that leads to a qualification up to (but not above) A level or equivalent (the course must be more than 3 months long and you are required to study more than 12 hours per week).

Financial problems

Mortgagee is in possession

Where there is default on repayment of the loan, the mortgage deed usually provides for the mortgagee to take possession of the property, and the property may subsequently be sold to repay the outstanding loan.

If the property is still occupied when the mortgagee takes possession, the exemption does not commence until the occupants vacate the dwelling.

Bankruptcy

Unoccupied dwellings are exempt when the person who would be liable to the Council Tax is a trustee in bankruptcy.

The exemption applies whether the unoccupied dwelling is furnished or not.

Armed forces and diplomats

Armed forces accommodation

Living accommodation for UK armed forces which is owned by the Secretary of State for Defence is exempt whether occupied or not.

This includes barracks and other accommodation on military bases, married quarters and any other dwellings provided the accommodation is held for the purposes of forces accommodation.

Contributions in lieu of Council Tax are payable to Billing Authorities on such properties.

Members and dependents of visiting forces

A dwelling is exempt from Council Tax if any of the persons who would be liable to pay the tax has a 'relevant association' with a visiting force from a country to which the Visiting Forces Act 1952 applies.

A person has a relevant association with a visiting force if they are:

  1. A member of that force, or a member of a civilian component of the force; or
  2. A dependent of a member, provided that the dependent is not a British citizen or is not ordinarily resident in the UK.

The nations whose forces are covered by the Act include:

Antigua Australia Bahamas Barbados Belgium Belize Canada Cyprus Denmark Fiji France Gambia Germany Ghana Greece India Italy Jamaica Malta Norway St Lucia Spain Tonga Turkey.

Diplomats

A dwelling is exempt from Council Tax if at least one person is:

  • A person to whom privileges and immunities are conferred by the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, or
  • Is a person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred under Part II of the Schedule to the Commonwealth Secretariat Act 1966.
  • Is a person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred by section 1 of the Consular Relations Act 1968.

And is not:

  • A British citizen, a British dependent Territories citizen, a British National (Overseas) or a British Overseas citizen or
  • A person who under British Nationality Act 1981 is a British subject or
  • A British protected person or
  • A permanent resident of the United Kingdom.
There must be no other dwelling in the UK which is the main residence of that person.

Caravan pitches and boat moorings

A caravan pitch or a boat mooring will constitute a 'dwelling' for Council Tax purposes if its next use is likely to be domestic.

Unoccupied pitches and moorings are exempt if its next use is not likely to be domestic.

Unoccupied annexe

Where an unoccupied annexe cannot be let separately, either because it is part of the main dwelling or because of a planning restriction the property is exempt.

This will primarily cover 'granny annexes' it may also include some other types of dwelling such as agricultural properties. See also 'Dependent relative' below.

Occupied by severely mentally impaired people

Properties that are wholly occupied by a person who is severely mentally impaired are exempt.

This only applies if the person who would be liable for the Council Tax is the person who is severely mentally impaired.

To qualify for this exemption, all of the following points must apply:

  • The person must have a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent
  • A registered medical practitioner (such as his or her doctor) must confirm this
  • The mentally-impaired person must be entitled to one of the benefits below (or would be entitled if they were not of pensionable age, or if their partner was not getting a premium in their Job Seeker’s Allowance for them):
    • Incapacity Benefit
    • A Constant Attendance Allowance
    • A Severe Disablement Allowance
    • Care component of a Disability Living Allowance, paid at the highest or middle rate
    • An Unemployability Supplement
    • An increase in the rate of Disablement Pension
    • An Unemployability Allowance
    • Income Support where applicable amount includes disability premium
    • Disabled Persons Tax Credit
    • An Attendance Allowance
    • Employment & Support Allowance

Dependent relative

A dwelling which forms part of a single property including at least one other dwelling and which is the sole or main residence of a dependent relative of a person who is resident in that other dwelling, or as the case may be, one of those other dwellings.

A relative is dependent if they are:

  • Aged 65+ or
  • Severely mentally impaired
  • Substantially and permanently disabled

A relative is:

  • The spouse of that person
  • The person's parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece or is the parent or child or such a person
  • A relationship by marriage shall be treated as a relationship by blood
  • A relationship between a man and a woman living together as husband and wife shall be treated as a relationship by marriage
  • The stepchild of a person shall be treated as his child.

See also 'unoccupied annex' above.

Council Tax Team
Access Oldham
Level 4, Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham, OL1 1UG
Tel 0161 770 6622

What is a vacant dwelling?

A vacant dwelling is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished.

Council Tax

What is a qualifying person?

Anyone who would be liable for council tax, as the owner or joint owner of a dwelling, if it were not exempt.

Council Tax