Changes to Discounts
South Staffordshire Council considers empty properties to be a wasted resource, both for its owner and for someone in need of housing. Analysis has shown that the number of empty properties in the District has been stubbornly high for a number of years. With effect 1st April 2020, we are making changes to the Council Tax discounts which are intended to encourage owners to bring empty homes back into use to provide homes that people need.
Unoccupied and unfurnished properties
Up until 31st March 2020, owners or tenants of unoccupied and unfurnished properties can apply for a 100% property discount for a period of up to three months. From 1st April 2020, the maximum period the discount can be applied for is 1 month.
This discount can be used for properties which are empty awaiting sale or let or undergoing refurbishments (which are not major). After three months of the property being empty, full council tax becomes payable even if the property remains unoccupied and unfurnished.
Please note if you purchase an unoccupied and unfurnished property you will only be entitled to any remaining balance of the discount .
Up until 31st March 2020, a property which is unoccupied, unfurnished and in need of major or structural repairs to make it habitable, can receive a 100% property discount. From the 1st April 2020, the discount amount will reduce to 50%.
The discount can continue for up to 6 months after the works are completed providing the property remains unoccupied and unfurnished and does not exceed 12 months. In order to apply for this discount, we will require evidence of the work required or being carried out to make the property habitable. Evidence should include photographs and/or contract invoices. Alternatively you can arrange an inspection of the property by one of our officers.
After the 12 months, full council tax becomes payable even if the property remains unoccupied and unfurnished.
Further to this, if the property is still empty after two years – then the property will be subject to a Council Tax premium as shown below.
Property remains empty for over 2 years
Up until 31st March 2020, once a property has been empty for over 2 years, a ‘long-term empty premium' of 50% is applied; therefore the rate of Council Tax payable is 150%.
A long term empty premium is charged in line with the Council's policy on long-term empty properties. This is to encourage empty properties to be brought back into use.
From 1st April 2020 and then 1st April 2021, the level of premium will change for long term empty properties. The table below shows the level of premium that will be applied and when:
|1st April 2020 onwards||1st April 2021 onwards|
|Empty for 2 to 5 years||100%||100%|
|Empty for 5 to 10 years||200%||200%|
|Empty 10 years or more||200%||300%|
If you have a property which is in a poor state of repair, or undergoing substantial refurbishment work or structural alterations, the Council will have to charge you for it unless the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) deletes it from the Council Tax valuation list. However the VOA will only do this if it is derelict and uninhabitable, or if the work is substantial and the property is being rebuilt or structurally altered.
Unoccupied but furnished properties
A property that has no occupants but is furnished is not entitled to any discount.
Empty properties – who is responsible for the Council Tax?
If there are no residents in a property, the owner is liable. ‘Owner' in this context means a person who:
- has a ‘material interest' in the whole or any part of the dwelling; and
- at least part of the dwelling or, as the case may be, of the part concerned is not subject to a material interest inferior to his interest.
‘Material interest' means a freehold interest or a leasehold interest which was granted for a term of six months or more – so sometimes, a tenant can be classed as ‘the owner' if they have a tenancy agreement for six months or more. However, if a tenant's six-month tenancy has ended and their tenancy has become a 'rolling' periodic tenancy, they can't be held liable for any empty charges once they move out.
If you require further assistance with other queries, please contact the Council Tax Department by email: email@example.com or by telephone: 01902 696664
If you would like to register for self-service where you can access information on your Council Tax account please follow this link:- self service