Council tax on empty properties and second homes
If you own an empty property, you still have to pay the full council tax on that property. If the property has been empty for more than two years, your property will be liable for additional charges, known as a premium.
This premium applies from two years after the property became unoccupied and unfurnished, rather than when you became liable for the council tax on that property. In certain circumstances you may apply for these additional charges to be removed (a reduction in the premium).
Empty properties (2020/21 council tax bill)
Properties empty for up to two years
You will be charged the same amount of council tax as an occupied property. There are no discounts available for properties empty for up to two years.
Properties empty between two and five years
After two years, an unfurnished property is charged two times the amount of council tax as an occupied property. This is a 100% premium.
Properties empty for more than five years
After five years a further premium is applied and an unfurnished property is charged three times the amount of council tax as an occupied property. This is a 200% premium.
Apply for a reduction in the premium
There are some circumstances where you may be able to apply for a discount on the amount of council tax you pay on your empty property. This means that you'd pay the same council tax that you'd pay if your property was occupied. These are properties:
- for sale or to rent - the property should be advertised through an estate agent, at a realistic market value.
- in need of renovation - if you're the new owner of a property that requires work to make the property fit to live in, you may be eligible for a discount. You must be able to provide evidence of the work completed and outstanding.
- where the owner is experiencing legal or technical issues, and is therefore unable to sell or let the property out.
- deliberately kept empty or properties waiting to be demolished because they are part of a renovation project
Durham County Council has opted to provide this discount underfor properties subject to the premium. Not all councils provide this discount.
Change in ownership
A property is classed as an 'empty property' for the time that it is empty. Who owns the property and when will not change this. For example, if you buy a property that has been empty for more than five years, the council tax you pay will be on a property that has been empty for five years.
Empty properties (2019/20 council tax)
For the first two years that your property is empty, you pay the same amount of council tax that you'd pay if the property was occupied.
Properties empty for more than two years
Furnished properties that have been unoccupied for over two years remain subject to 100% council tax.
Unfurnished properties that have been unoccupied for over two years are subject to 150% council tax. This is known as the Long Term Empty Property Premium.
Second homes needed for work
In some circumstances, you may be eligible for a 50% discount if your second home is job related.
How do I notify you that it's for work purposes?
When you move into a property you should report changes affecting your council tax.
If you think you're entitled to this reduction but have not received it, contact us.
What if my circumstances change?
If any of your circumstances change that could alter how much you pay, you need to let us know as soon as possible. Financial penalties may apply if you pay less when you're not entitled to.
- Council tax
- Council tax
- 03000 26 4000
Our address is:
- Revenues and Benefits
- PO Box 238
- County Durham
- United Kingdom
- DH8 1FP