My property is empty/will soon be empty. Do I still have to pay council tax?

Some properties may be exempt from council tax. For a full list, see council tax exemptions.

Exemptions are awarded against the property and not the owner or occupier, therefore you may not qualify for an exemption if you become liable for a property and the exemption has previously been awarded.

Empty or unfurnished properties

In 2013, the government abolished the exemption for empty and unfurnished properties and allowed councils the discretion to set the time period for how long an empty property can be exempt. From April 2013, a 100% exemption was awarded for one month from the date in which the property became empty.

From 1 April 2017, unoccupied and unfurnished properties no longer receive a council tax exemption. This means that if you are responsible for a property and it is left unoccupied and unfurnished for any period of time, you will need to pay the full council tax charge.

Why has this exemption been removed?

The council has reviewed this exemption and the decision to remove it was made for the following reasons:

  • It encourages owners of empty properties to bring them back into use as quickly as possible to assist with the housing need in this area
  • It will give greater clarity over who is liable to pay the council tax and from what date. Tenancy start, end and sale dates will be the important dates rather than the date the property became empty (which can be difficult to obtain)
  • It will provide one consistent approach for owners of furnished and unfurnished properties
  • The council will benefit from the increase in revenue from removing the exemption and this will be put back into services we deliver to our residents

Other councils and this exemption

Councils are not obliged to give an exemption for unoccupied and unfurnished properties. Some councils may choose to award the exemption, but it is not mandatory for them to do so.

Empty property premium

At a meeting of the Council on 21 February 2024, Warwick District Council formally agreed to adopt changes to the Empty Homes Premium as set by the Government. This will see empty and unoccupied properties attract a 100% Council Tax premium after 1 year with effect from 1 April 2024. Previously this premium did not take effect until after 2 years.

As from 1 April 2024 properties empty for a period in excess of 1 year will be charged council tax at 200% of the full charge (100% council tax charge plus 100% premium). Prior to 1 April 2024 this was for a period in excess of 2 years. 

As from 1 April 2020 properties empty for a period in excess of 5 years will be charged council tax at 300% of the full charge (100% council tax charge plus 200% premium).

As from 1 April 2021 properties empty for a period in excess of 10 years will be charged council tax at 400% of the full charge (100% council tax charge plus 300% premium).

Frequently asked questions

Why does my bill show a council tax levy (premium charge) on it?

Government legislation has previously enabled Councils to charge a premium on a class of property that has been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more. The premium amounts are listed above. Every time your property hits one of the milestones of being empty (1 year, 5 years, 10 years) the premium charge applicable will be listed on your council tax bill.

On 26 October 2023 the Levelling up and Regeneration bill received Royal Assent. This enabled Councils to charge a council tax premium for properties that have been empty for 1 year or more from 1 April 2024. 

At a meeting of the Council on 21 February 2024, Warwick District Council formally agreed to adopt changes to the Empty Homes Premium as set by the Government.

I have just bought an empty property and there is a premium charge on it do I have to pay this extra amount?

This premium charge is set against the property and not the individual council tax account. This means if you purchase a property that has already been empty for over 1 year before you purchased it or it goes over a year empty after you purchase it, it will be liable for the above applicable premium charge.

I have had a bill with a premium charge on it, but I am living in the property (or have a tenant in there) what should I do?

Please contact us as soon as possible with as much information as you can provide. We will need to know the full names of any adults over the age of 18 that lives there, the date they moved into the property, where they moved from (if known) and any extra information you can provide to us. We may need to do some further checks so please include a contact telephone number and or email so we can contact you if required. We are not able to move someone into a property and remove a premium charge unless it is their sole or main residence for council tax purposes. 

My property is a second home and is substantially furnished, do I still have to pay a premium charge?

Currently substantially furnished second homes do not attract a premium, but as from 1 April 2025 they will also attract a 100% premium. If you wish to advise us that your property is currently being used as a second home and is substantially furnished please contact us and send in any evidence you have to show this. We may need to do some further checks so please include a contact telephone number and or email so we can contact you if required.

My property is having major works or structural repairs done to it so I can not move in yet.

A dwelling may be entitled to a local council tax discount for up to a maximum of 12 months from the date the property became unoccupied and unfurnished, providing the property is undergoing major structural alterations or undergoing major repair work to render it habitable due to a flood fire or subsidence. If you think your property may qualify please see our dedicated discount page for more details. If you have already been awarded the major works discount for a full year and it has expired your property will attract the applicable council tax premium as above.

I am experiencing financial hardship and I can not afford to pay the additional premium charge

If you are experiencing financial hardship or exceptional circumstances which have resulted in your property has been empty for over a year and are unable to pay the additional premium charge please contact us as we may be able to help. In order to review a premium charge in full you would need to complete an application under our discretionary 13a reduction scheme. Full details of our policy and application form can be found on this dedicated page