How long will my empty property receive a discount for?

Important changes to Council Tax locally set discounts from 1 April 2014
A property that is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished will receive a 100% discount for a maximum of 4 weeks only. The property will generally be inspected prior to the discount being awarded.
Properties requiring major repair works to render them habitable or that are undergoing structural alteration  no longer receive any discount, however there will be a provision for dealing with exceptional cases which might arise such as flooding, fire damage etc which is outside the control of the liable person and is unavoidable.
The power to make these changes was approved in parliament, as part of the Local Government Finance Bill enacted on 1 November 2012.
The level of discount awarded for 2014/15 and onwards was approved by Castle Point Borough Council Cabinet on 15 January 2014

Is my property entitled to an exemption from Council Tax?

The following dwellings are exempt if they are:

  • Class N: Occupied entirely by students, or by students as term time accommodation, or are a student hall of residence;
  • Class S: Occupied only by people under the age of 18;
  • Class W: an annexe that is occupied by a dependent relative;
  • Class U: Occupied only by people who are severely mentally impaired who would otherwise be liable to pay the council tax. Such dwellings where the landlord or care home owner is liable are not exempt.

The following dwellings are exempt for a limited period:

  • Classes B: Dwellings owned by a charity and which have been unoccupied, but will be used by a charity when next occupied are exempt for up to six months;
  • Class F: Unoccupied dwellings which form part of the estate of a person who has died, for up to six months after the grant of probate or letters of administration.

The following dwellings are exempt while they remain unoccupied:

  • Class K: Dwellings where the owner is a student who last lived in the dwelling as his or her main home;
  • Class D: Dwellings left unoccupied by people who are in prison (except for non-payment of a fine or council tax).The dwelling must have been their main home immediately before they went into prison;
  • Class I: Dwellings left unoccupied by people who have moved to receive personal care, whether in a hospital or home or elsewhere. They must have been away for this reason since they left;
  • Class J: Dwellings left unoccupied by people who have moved to provide personal care to another person. They must have been away for this reason since they left;
  • Class T: Annexes which cannot be let separately from the main dwelling without breaching planning conditions;
  • Class Q: Dwellings where the liable person is a trustee in bankruptcy;
  • Class E: Dwellings left unoccupied by people who now have their sole or main residence in a Residential Care Home or Hospital;
  • Class G: Dwellings whose occupation is forbidden by law, or which are kept unoccupied because of impending compulsory purchase;
  • ClassH: Vicarages and similar dwellings which are awaiting occupation by ministers of religion, from where they will perform their duties;
  • Class L: Dwellings which have been taken into possession by a mortgage lender.

Will I get a bill for an exempt dwelling?

If you own one of these types of dwelling you should still receive a council tax bill for it. This will give you information to let you know which valuation band the property has been placed in, what the council tax would be if it were not exempt and where appropriate the time limit of the exemption.

If the Council writes to tell you that it believes your property is exempt, but you realise that it should not be, you must write and tell the council or you may face a penalty. Alternatively please telephone the Council on 01268 882200 or by email to:

What can I do if the Council says my property is not exempt?

If the Council decides your dwelling is not exempt and you disagree, you should write to the Council saying why you think your property should be exempt. The Council has two months to provide an answer. If you still disagree with the Council, or if it has not acted within the two month period, you can appeal to a Valuation Tribunal. You should continue to pay your original bill while your appeal is outstanding.

Do I have to pay full Council Tax when my property is empty?

From 1st April 2004 the council made the decision that any unoccupied and substantially unfurnished property, after any exemption has expired, will no longer be awarded a discount, and the owner will be liable for 100% of the Council Tax.

Properties that are furnished and used as a second home will be allowed a 10% discount and will be liable for 90% of the Council Tax.

Properties that are left empty because the owner has to live somewhere else because of a clause in their work contract will be awarded 50% discount and will be liable for 50% of the Council Tax. However the property they are now living in must be situated within England, Scotland or Wales.

I am disabled. Can I get a reduction in my Council Tax?

You may be able to have your Council Tax reduced if you are or have a disabled person living in the property. The reduced Council Tax is given by charging as if the property was in the next lower valuation band. To receive a reduction the law requires that the property must have one of the following:

  • *A room, that is used mainly by the disabled person and is required for meeting their needs; or
  • An additional bathroom or kitchen that is required to meet the needs of the disabled person. This needs to be a full bathroom not just an additional toilet; or
  • Adaptation for wheelchair access or use.

* This room does not need to have been specially built, but your home will not qualify for a reduction unless the room meets 'the essential or of major importance' test. Simply rearranging rooms (for example, having a bedroom on the ground floor rather than the first floor) is unlikely to make your home eligible for a reduction.

These reductions would be in addition to any award of a discount

Am I able to claim a discount to my Council Tax?

If only one adult lives in a property as their main home the bill is reduced by a quarter (25%). The following people are NOT included when counting the number of people who live in a property:

  • Full-time students, student nurses, apprentices earning less than a specific amount (which changes annually) and Youth Training trainees
  • Patients permanently living in hospital
  • People being looked after permanently in Care Homes
  • People who are severely mentally impaired
  • People staying in certain hostels or night shelters
  • 18 and 19 year olds who are in full-time education (other than higher education). This includes people of that age who are at school or college and are on courses up to, and including, A level standard. You will also not be counted if you are at least 18 years old and someone is entitled to child benefit in respect of you, or would be if you were not in local authority care.
  • Care workers working for low pay, usually for charities
  • People caring for a disabled person (excluding partners or a child under 18)
  • Members of visiting forces and certain international institutions
  • Monks or Nuns
  • People in prison (except those in prison for not paying Council Tax or a fine)

See the Discounts and Disregards page for further information and forms.