Council tax discounts and exemptions

Properties exempt from council tax

In some cases, a property may be exempt from council tax altogether, which means that you will not have to pay council tax on it. This exemption may be for a limited time.  

Empty properties exempt from council tax  

An empty property will be exempt from council tax when the property is:  

  • Owned by a registered charity and last used for charitable purposes 
  • Part of the estate of a person who has died, for up to 6 months after the grant of probate or letters of administration, unless probate determines ownership 
  • Occupation is prohibited by law or a planning condition 
  • Being held vacant for a minister of religion 
  • Under a repossession order by a mortgage lender 
  • An unoccupied caravan pitch or boat mooring 
  • An empty annexe of a single property and cannot be let separately. 

An empty property will also be exempt from council tax if it was last lived in by someone who is:  

  • In prison and he or she owns the property or still holds the tenancy 
  • Now living in a hospital, residential home, care home, nursing home or hostel or has moved elsewhere to receive personal care 
  • Living elsewhere to care for another person 
  • A student or became a student within 6 weeks of leaving the property 
  • A trustee in bankruptcy proceedings. 

If your property is left empty for two years or more, you will have to pay the empty homes surcharge. 

Empty homes surcharge

From 1st April 2013 homes that have been empty and unfurnished for 2 years or more have been charged an extra 50% council tax. From 1st April 2019 this increased to 100%. 

From 1st April 2020 homes that have been empty and unfurnished for 5 years or more have been charged an extra 200% council tax. From 1st April 2021 homes that have been empty and unfurnished for 10 years or more will be charged an extra 300% council tax.  

It’s important to keep us updated on the occupancy of any properties you own.  

You can find more information in our empty homes surcharge policy (PDF).

Empty homes that don’t receive a surcharge  

Empty homes and properties cannot be charged the surcharge if they would otherwise be the sole or main residence of a member of the armed forces, who is absent from the property as a result of such a service. Homes cannot be charged the surcharge if they form a substantial annex to a dwelling, which is being used as part of the main residence in that dwelling, such as a ‘granny flat’. 

Occupied properties exempt from council tax 

An occupied property will be exempt from council tax when it is: 

  • A student hall of residence 
  • A Ministry of Defence barracks or married quarters 
  • Visiting forces accommodation 
  • Part of another property which is only lived in by the elderly or disabled relatives of those living in the rest of the property. 

An occupied property will also be exempt from council tax when it is lived in only by: 

  • Full-time students and their spouses or dependents who are not EU citizens 
  • People under 18 years old 
  • People who are severely mentally impaired 
  • Foreign diplomats 

Applying for an exemption from council tax

If you think your property may be exempt from council tax, you should complete discount and exemption form.