Council Tax exemptions

An exemption from Council Tax means there is nothing to pay for some occupied and unoccupied properties.

On this page you will find a list of all available exemptions a resident can apply for. Please note the qualifying criteria for these exemptions is not covered in full detail on this website, further information is available by contacting us.

If you apply for a discount or exemption, you must continue to pay the Council Tax as per your latest bill. If you do not pay according to the bill sent to you, we will begin with recovery action.

Unoccupied properties

There are some situations where there will be no liability for payment of Council Tax in unoccupied dwellings.

Apply for a Council Tax discount/exemption if your property is empty

The property must be unoccupied, but need not be unfurnished and must be owned or leased by a registered charity. It must also have been last occupied by the charity for the purpose of the charity's objectives.

The exemption will apply for a maximum of six months from the date it was last occupied.

The liable person is in prison or in detention elsewhere (i.e. in a hospital). The property must previously have been his/her sole or main residence and must now be unoccupied, but need not be unfurnished.

This exemption does not apply if the person is in police custody before his/her first court appearance or the person is in prison for non-payment of fines or non-payment of Council Tax.

Awarded where the liable person has their sole or main residence in a care home or hostel, or in an independent hospital in which they are receiving care or treatment.

The property must previously have been the sole or main residence of the absent person.

The property can be exempt regardless of whether it is furnished or unfurnished, and will qualify for the exemption as long as the person whose name appears on the bill resides permanently in residential care.

If someone has died and their home is now unoccupied, it may be exempt from Council Tax. To apply, you must be an executor or administrator of the person's estate.

The exemption lasts from the date of death up to a maximum of six months after the grant of probate or letters of administration are issued. Or it stops immediately if:

  • someone moves in; or
  • the property is sold; or
  • ownership transfers to someone else, such as a beneficiary.

If this happens, you must contact us straight away so that we can cancel the exemption.

This exemption will not be awarded where the property is jointly owned, as the other owner would still be liable to pay Council Tax as the owner of an empty property.

This includes homes which are:

  • unfit for human habitation (by the Council's Environmental Services)
  • subject to planning restrictions which prohibit occupation
  • subject to demolition orders
  • subject to compulsory purchase orders.

The property must be unoccupied and unfurnished.

If the property becomes illegally inhabited, for example by squatters, then the squatters will be liable to pay Council Tax.

The property must be unoccupied, but need not be unfurnished. It must be held available for occupation by a Minister of any religious denomination, for the purpose of allowing him or her to perform the duties of office.

Where a person has gone to live with someone else in order to receive care. The property must be unoccupied, but need not be unfurnished and the person liable to pay must have been absent for the whole period since the dwelling last ceased to be his/her sole or main residence.

The person must be receiving care due to old age, disablement, illness, past or present alcohol or drug dependence, or past or present mental disorder.

Where the liable person has left a property unoccupied, having changed their place of residence in order to provide personal care for someone else. The person receiving care must be due to old age, disablement, illness, past or present alcohol or drug dependence, or past or present mental disorder.

If you are a student and you leave your home unoccupied because you have moved elsewhere to study, you will not have to pay Council Tax on it. The exemption continues only for as long as you remain a full time student.

The property must be unoccupied but need not be unfurnished and must have been repossessed by the mortgagee (the lender of money). The exemption starts on the date of the repossession and stops when the property is sold, or when the mortgage lender's possession is terminated.

No exemption will be awarded if the person who took out the mortgage simply abandons the property. If someone still lives there, the resident will be charged Council Tax.

Where the person who would be liable to the Council Tax in respect of an unoccupied dwelling is a trustee in bankruptcy, the dwelling is exempt.

A pitch which is not occupied by a caravan, or mooring which is not occupied by a boat, is exempt for the whole of any period during which the situation exists.

The exemption ceases as soon as the caravan or boat is moved onto the pitch or mooring.

If you have an unoccupied annex that you cannot let separately because of planning rules, you do not have to pay Council Tax on it.

Occupied properties

There are some situations where there will be no liability for payment of Council Tax in occupied dwellings.

Apply for a Council Tax discount/exemption for occupied properties

If you're a school, college, university or charity and own properties you use for student accommodation, you won't have to pay Council Tax on them.

If you live in a property that is only occupied by students or by their foreign partners or dependents, you may not have to pay Council Tax. It is important to understand that students are not always exempt from liability to pay Council Tax, just because they are students.

If all the residents of the household are disregarded because they are qualifying students, they will be entitled to a full Council Tax exemption. They will get a Council Tax bill showing the full exemption. If both students and non-students live in a property, there can still be reductions in the Council Tax payable - this will depend on the number of non-students living in the household.

This exemption applies if each person living in the property is:

  • a full time student; or
  • a school or college leaver; or
  • a non-British spouse, partner or dependent of a student who is prevented, under the terms of their leave to enter or remain in the UK, from taking paid employment or claiming benefits.

You will need to get a Council Tax student certificate from the administration office at your school, college or university.

Definitions

A full-time student is:

  • someone who is doing a full-time course of further or higher education at a university or any other college; or
  • under 20 years old in part time or full time education, which requires at least 12 hours a week of supervised study, exercise, experiment, project or practical work and leads to a qualification up to A level, ONC or OND standard (not higher education).

A full-time course:

  • at least one academic year with a prescribed educational establishment, or if the establishment does not have academic years, for at least one calendar year; or
  • at least 24 weeks in each academic or calendar year; or
  • consists of an average of at least 21 hours a week of study, tuition, work experience or a combination of these.

If you a member of the UK armed forces and in living accommodation, including barracks, messes and married quarters, owned by the Ministry of Defence, you do not have to pay Council Tax on this accommodation.

A person is disregarded for Council Tax purposes if that person is associated, within the meaning of the Visiting Forces Act 1952, with a body, contingent or detachment of the forces of a country, to which the Act applies.

If all the people living in a property are under the age of 18, they do not have to pay Council Tax on it.

A property that is occupied by a liable person who is severely mentally impaired is exempt. The exemption may also apply to a property jointly occupied by one or more of the above who lives with a full time student. Examples of illnesses which may qualify include Dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The qualifying person must be in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits as listed on the application form and a doctor must certify severe mental impairment. This exemption only applies where the severely mentally impaired person would be liable for Council Tax. If someone else is liable, for example a property classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or care homes, the exemption does not apply.

Qualifying Benefits

  • incapacity benefit
  • attendance allowance
  • severe disablement allowance
  • care component of the disability living allowance
  • daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • an increase in disablement pension, where constant attendance is needed
  • disability working allowance
  • unemployability supplement
  • constant attendance allowance payable with disablement benefit or war disablement pension
  • unemployability allowance payable with war disablement pension
  • income support disability premium.

A property where a diplomat is liable to pay the Council Tax is exempt.

If a diplomat lives in the home of another person who is liable to pay Council Tax, the diplomat is disregarded and a discount may be applicable.

Please view our dedicated 'Annex discount/exemption' page for information on dwellings occupied by dependent relatives.

Previous exemptions

The following no longer attract an exemption and are subject to 100% of the Council Tax charge:

  • Class A - premises undergoing or requiring structural repair or alteration work
  • Class C - premises that are unoccupied and unfurnished
  • second homes
  • premises that are unoccupied and furnished.

Tell us of any changes

If your circumstances change you need to tell us straight away. If you don't, you may end up paying the wrong amount of Council Tax.

Last updated: 21/02/2020 14:35

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