Empty Homes - Council Tax

Unoccupied and unfurnished property discounts, waivers and premiums.

In certain circumstances, some unoccupied properties are exempt from the Council Tax charge including those properties left unoccupied by someone who now lives elsewhere to receive care, is resident in a care home or is detained in prison. In addition, some unoccupied annexes may be exempt from the Council Tax charge.

Some Council Tax exemptions can only be applied for a limited period of time whereas others are unlimited providing the conditions of the exemption are met.

These Council Tax exemptions are provided by legislation and apply across England.

In the Uttlesford District Council area we also offer locally-decided discounts on unoccupied properties which are reviewed annually and are subject to change. These include time-limited discount for properties that are unoccupied and unfurnished and those that are undergoing or in need of major repairs or structural alterations.

Where a discount is awarded, a full council Tax charge applies to the unoccupied property when the discount period ends. Properties that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of two years or more will be subject to an empty homes premium charge which is charged on top of the full council Tax charge.

You can find out more about Council Tax exemptions and information about empty homes discounts and premiums appear in the sections below.

Unoccupied and unfurnished discount

Eligibility

Currently, properties in the Uttlesford District Council area that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished may be subject to a 50% Council Tax discount for a period of up to six months.

The discount will commence on the day the property meets the criteria and will continue for six months or until the property becomes reoccupied, whichever is soonest.

The discount applies to the property itself regardless of any change in ownership. For example, if the previous owner has already claimed the discount for the three months, the new occupier will only be entitled to the remaining three months.

Should the property remain unoccupied and unfurnished at the end of the six-month period, a full Council Tax charge will be applied and the property will be listed as being long-term empty.

Properties that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of two years or more will be subject to an empty homes premium charge which is charged on top of the full Council Tax charge.

These Uttlesford District Council locally-decided discounts are reviewed annually and are subject to change.

How to apply

If your unoccupied property meets the criteria listed above above, please email the Council Tax team at revenues@uttlesford.gov.uk to confirm the date that the property became unoccupied and unfurnished. Please also provide the address of the empty property, the address of where you live, your name and contact details and we will get in touch if we need any further information.

Penalty

If your Council Tax bill indicates that a discount has been granted and you think it is incorrect, you must contact the Council Tax team at Uttlesford District Council within 21 days of when the bill was issued to tell them. You must also tell us about any change of circumstances that may affect your eligibility to claim the discount within 21 days of the change. If you fail to do so, you may be issued with a penalty of £70.

Major works discount

Currently, properties in the Uttlesford District Council area that are undergoing or in need of major works of structural alterations may be subject to a 50% Council Tax discount for a period of up to twelve months. To qualify, the property must also be unoccupied and substantially unfurnished.

Normally, these major works would constitute things like complete re-wiring, major electrical repairs, roofing, replacement windows, replacing floors or removal of internal or external walls.

The discount will commence on the day the property meets the criteria and will continue for twelve months or until the property becomes reoccupied, whichever is soonest.

The discount applies to the property itself regardless of any change in ownership.

Should the property remain unoccupied and unfurnished at the end of the twelve-month period, a full Council Tax charge will be applied.

Properties that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of two years or more will be subject to an empty homes premium charge which is charged on top of the full Council Tax charge.

These Uttlesford District Council locally-decided discounts are reviewed annually and are subject to change.

How to apply

If your unoccupied property meets the criteria listed above above, please apply for the discount online.

You will need to provide evidence in support of your application such as a builder's report, a surveyor's report, receipts for any works already undertaken, photographs and details of any planning or building control applications approved. These should be sent to the Council Tax team at revenues@uttlesford.gov.uk.

Please also provide the address of the empty property, the address of where you live, your name and contact details and we will get in touch if we need any further information.

Penalty

If your Council Tax bill indicates that a discount has been granted and you think it is incorrect, you must contact the Council Tax team at Uttlesford District Council within 21 days of when the bill was issued to tell them. You must also tell us about any change of circumstances that may affect your eligibility to claim the discount within 21 days of the change. If you fail to do so, you may be issued with a penalty of £70.

Flooding (adverse weather) discount

Currently, properties in the Uttlesford District Council area that are unoccupied because they have suffered flooding due to adverse weather may be subject to a 50% Council Tax discount for a period of up to six months. To qualify, the property must be unoccupied and substantially unfurnished.

The discount will commence on the day the property meets the criteria and will continue for six months or until the property became reoccupied, whichever is soonest.

For the purposes of this discount, the flooding must have been caused by adverse weather conditions and not, for instance, by the failure of a water main, internal water system or a general failure of a sewerage system.

When applied alongside an appropriate unoccupied 50% discount, this discount provides a cumulative Council Tax discount of 100% for a period of up to six months. Should the property remain unoccupied and unfurnished at the end of the six-month period, either a 50% or full Council Tax charge will be applied depending on the circumstances.

The discount applies to the property itself regardless of any change in ownership.

Properties that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of two years or more will be subject to an empty homes premium charge which is charged on top of the full Council Tax charge.

These Uttlesford District Council locally-decided discounts are reviewed annually and are subject to change.

How to apply

If your unoccupied property meets the criteria listed above above, please apply for the the flooding discount online.

 

Penalty

If your Council Tax bill indicates that a discount has been granted and you think it is incorrect, you must contact the Council Tax team at Uttlesford District Council within 21 days of when the bill was issued to tell them. You must also tell us about any change of circumstances that may affect your eligibility to claim the discount within 21 days of the change. If you fail to do so, you may be issued with a penalty of £70.

Empty home premium charge

Properties that are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of two years or more will be subject to an empty homes premium charge which is charged on top of the full Council Tax charge.

The empty homes premium is intended to encourage homeowners to ensure that their empty homes are occupied as soon as possible.

We introduced the premium charge at 50% in 2014 and from 01 April 2019 the premium has been set at 100% of the full Council Tax charge for the property. This means that in total, owners of empty homes in the Uttlesford District Council area pay 200% of the full Council Tax charge.

These Uttlesford District Council locally-decided discounts and empty homes premiums are reviewed annually and are subject to change.

Is my property exempt from the empty homes premium charge?

You must pay the premium charge if your property has been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for two years or more unless your property:

  • Qualifies for a discount or exemption.
  • Is empty and unfurnished because it would otherwise be the sole or main residence of a person who is living in Ministry of Defence accommodation due to their employment.
  • Is an annexe which is unoccupied because it is being used by the occupier of the main dwelling as part of that dwelling.

Help with empty homes

If you need help getting an empty home back in to use, you can find advice on our empty homes page.

Empty homes premium charge waiver

This is a discretionary discount available in the Uttlesford District Council area and the Council are using powers under section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to introduce a class of exceptions where the Council Tax premium will be reduced subject to the eligibility criteria set out below.

Calculation

In all cases, the Council will decide the length of time for which a waiver will be awarded on the basis of the evidence supplied and the facts known. The start date of a waiver will normally be the date of application, providing the Council is satisfied that the reasons for the waiver existed at that time. The waiver will continue until the end of the financial year, subject to those circumstances continuing.

The Council will review the award and request confirmation that the circumstances leading to the award of the waiver remain applicable. The Council reserves the right to make routine inspections of the property at any point during the period of the waiver. It is expected that the property will be occupied by the end of the period of waiver. Where this is the case, the Premium will no longer apply. Where that is not the case and the property remains empty, the waiver will be removed and the premium will be charged retrospectively.

The premium charge will not be waived where evidence suggests that the owner has not taken all possible steps to return the property to occupation. In the case of a property for sale, the premium charge will not be waived where evidence suggests that the asking price is too high and in the case of a property for rent it will not be waived where evidence suggests that the rent is too high.

The premium charge will not be waived where evidence suggests that the owner has caused any delay in works being started within the six month period from the date of their ownership. If works were started within the six month period but there has been a delay after that period, the premium charge will not be waived where evidence suggests that the owner is responsible for the delay in completing the works.

Eligibility

Properties left to someone in a will and in need of renovation
Only where the new owner takes action to return the property to occupation within a period of six months from taking ownership and can provide evidence that the action has been continuous and realistic.

Legal or official actions causing a delay
Only where action to return the property to occupation has been delayed by legal action or by the actions of any official body with powers to take such action e.g. the council, solicitors or a utility company, etc. Action to return the property to occupation within a period of six months from the date the official action ended and can provide evidence that the action has been continuous and realistic

Properties with a restrictive covenant
Only where the owner is genuinely seeking to sell or rent the property in the prevailing local market conditions (realistic selling price or rent level) and can provide evidence that the action has been continuous and realistic.

Where the owner is in negotiation with the Empty Homes Team
With a genuine view to returning the property back into occupation at the earliest possible date.

Listed Buildings
Where a listed building has been empty for two years or more and the owner needs to carry out major repairs to bring the property back into occupation. In this scenario the decision to grant a waiver will take into account the major repairs required and what is considered a reasonable time to complete the repairs.

Exceptional Circumstances
Where the dwelling has remained empty beyond a two year period due to exceptional and/or unforeseen circumstances and/or any other circumstances, proven to be beyond the control of the owner/liable person.

Change of ownership
Only where the new owner has taken genuine action to return the property to occupation within a period of six months from taking ownership and can provide evidence that the action has been continuous and realistic.

How to apply

If your empty home meets the criteria listed above above, please apply for the the waiver online. You must provide documentary evidence showing genuine, continuous and realistic action to bring the property into occupation. These should be sent to the Council Tax team at revenues@uttlesford.gov.uk.

Penalty

If your Council Tax bill indicates that a discount has been granted and you think it is incorrect, you must contact the Council Tax team at Uttlesford District Council within 21 days of when the bill was issued to tell them. You must also tell us about any change of circumstances that may affect your eligibility to claim the discount within 21 days of the change. If you fail to do so, you may be issued with a penalty of £70.