Council Tax charges for empty or unfurnished properties
You could be exempt from paying Council Tax for an unoccupied property if it is empty for one of the following reasons:
- the property is owned or rented by a charity, provided that when it was last occupied it was being used for the purposes of the charity - the property is exempt from Council Tax for up to six months after becoming empty
- the owner or tenant is in prison
- the owner or tenant is in a hospital or care home
- the owner or tenant has died, and the property has been continuously unoccupied since the date of death - the property is exempt while awaiting probate or letters of administration, and for up to six months after it has been granted
- the law prevents anyone from living there
- the property is being kept empty for a minister of religion
- the owner or tenant is receiving personal care somewhere other than in a hospital or care home - this could include being cared for by relatives
- the owner or tenant is providing care for someone else
- the property was previously occupied by full-time students who have moved out
- the property has been repossessed
- the owner or tenant has been declared bankrupt
- the property is an unoccupied caravan pitch or boat mooring
- it provides accommodation for the Armed Forces and is owned by the Ministry of Defence
- the property is an unoccupied annex, and the annex has its own Council Tax bill
You need to continue to pay your Council Tax in full until any reduction is applied and your bill is amended.
Remember to let us know as soon as possible if your circumstances change, as it may affect what you are entitled to.
Unoccupied or unfurnished properties
From 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2020 unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties were exempt from paying Council Tax for a maximum period of one month only.
This discount relates to the property, rather than to an individual owner or tenant.
For example, if a property becomes unoccupied and unfurnished on 1st May, the 100% discount would be awarded for one month from the 1st May. If after that period the property is then sold on, the new owner would not receive a further one month discount.
Alternatively, if the same property is rented and the tenant moves out and removes their furniture on 1st May, but the tenancy doesn't end until 15th May, and the property remains unoccupied and unfurnished until 1st July when a new tenancy starts, the Council Tax liability will be as follows:
The original tenant will remain liable for Council Tax until 14th May (the day before their tenancy ends) and will be awarded a 100% discount from 1st to 14th May
The property owner/ landlord will be liable for Council Tax from 15th May to 30th June because there is no tenancy in place. They will be awarded a 100% discount from 15th May to 30th May (the remainder of the one month discount period) and then will be charged full Council Tax until the new tenancy starts.
The new tenant will be responsible for paying the Council Tax from 1st July when their tenancy starts, even if they don't move in immediately.
In Adur: from 1st April 2020, this discount no longer applies to unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties, where the full amount of Council Tax is payable.
In Worthing: unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties will still receive a 100% discount for a maximum period of one month up until 31st March 2023. From 1st April 2023 the discount can no longer be awarded and the full amount of Council Tax is payable.
The discount for furnished but unoccupied properties in Adur and Worthing was discontinued on 1st April 2013. This means second homes, or holiday homes, are no longer eligible for a Council Tax discount, even when unoccupied.
Uninhabitable properties or those undergoing alteration or repair
From 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2020 properties that were empty because they were uninhabitable, or while major repair or structural works were being carried out, were exempt from paying Council Tax for a maximum period of three months.
From 1st April 2020 this discount has been abolished in Adur and Worthing, meaning that the full amount of Council Tax is payable when a property is uninhabitable or undergoing repair/alteration.
How to apply
To apply for any of these exemptions, please complete the form below:
Long-term empty properties
From 1st April 2013 to 31st March 2020, if a property was unfurnished and had been unoccupied for two years or more, an additional premium of 50% was also charged. This means that 150% of the usual Council Tax was payable.
From 1st April 2020, the premium was increased to:
- 100% for properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years, but less than five years. This means that you will be charged 200%.
- 200% for properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for five years or more. This means that you will be charged 300%.
From 1st April 2021 the premium was further increased to:
- 300% for properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for 10 years or more. This means that you will be charged 400%.
When calculating the unoccupied period it's based on the date that the property was last occupied, rather than the period since 1st April 2020 or 1st April 2021.
Additionally, if a property that is already subject to the long-term empty premium is sold, the new owner will immediately become liable for the premium until either the property is occupied or is furnished.
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Adur Council Tax
Worthing Council Tax
Page last updated: 01 February 2023