Second homes and empty properties

You may be able to get a discount if you have a second home or an empty property - it’s up to your council to decide.

Councils can charge extra Council Tax for empty properties.

Second homes

You may pay less Council Tax for a property you own or rent that’s not your main home.

Councils can give furnished second homes or holiday homes a discount of up to 50%. Contact your council to find out if you can get a discount - it’s up to them how much you can get.

Empty properties

You’ll usually have to pay Council Tax on an empty home, but your council can decide to give you a discount - the amount is up to them. Contact your council to ask about a discount.

You can be charged up to double your Council Tax if your home has been empty for 2 years or more (unless it’s an annexe or you’re in the armed forces).

The rules are different in Scotland.

When you do not pay Council Tax

If you’re selling a property on behalf of an owner who’s died, you won’t need to pay Council Tax until after you get probate as long as the property remains empty. After probate is granted, you may be able to get a Council Tax exemption for another 6 months if the property is both:

  • unoccupied
  • still owned and in the name of the person who died

Some homes do not get a Council Tax bill for as long as they stay empty. They include homes:

  • of someone in prison (except for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
  • of someone who’s moved into a care home or hospital
  • that have been repossessed
  • that cannot be lived in by law, for example if they’re derelict
  • that are empty because they’ve been compulsory purchased and will be demolished

You may get a discount if your home is undergoing major repair work or structural changes, for example your walls are being rebuilt.

If your property’s been refurbished

Your council will tell you when you have to start paying Council Tax if you’ve been carrying out major home improvements on an empty property or building a new property.

You’ll get a ‘completion notice’ that tells you the date you must start paying Council Tax.

If your property’s derelict

Your property’s only considered derelict if it:

  • is not possible to live in it, for example because it’s been damaged by weather, rot or vandalism
  • would need major structural works to make it ‘wind and watertight’ again

You can challenge your Council Tax band if you think a derelict property should be removed from the Council Tax valuation list.