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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 will 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

Government legislation has previously enabled councils to apply a levy up to 50% extra where a property has been empty for 2 years or more. This legislation has been updated and now allows councils to apply a levy of up to 300% extra.

At a meeting of the Council on 20 February 2019, Warwick District Council decided to adopt changes to the Empty Homes Premium as set by the Government; which increases the levy as follows:

As from 1 April 2019 properties empty for a period in excess of 2 years will be charged council tax at 200% of the full charge (100% council tax charge plus 100% levy).

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% levy).

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% levy).