Owning a number of properties is never a bad position to be in. With housing market prices being at an all time high, it is a safe investment.
That said, it does have its drawbacks. Council tax and paying for upkeep is expensive, especially if one of the properties is empty. It may feel like you’re throwing away money.
Thankfully, there are ways to avoid paying council tax on your empty property. This post will tell you how.
Do you have to pay council tax on an empty property?
In short, yes you do have to pay council tax on your empty property. It‘s a legal requirement to pay council tax on properties unless they meet certain criteria.
Councils charge council tax on empty properties to encourage people to start using them again.
If you’ve left your property furnished, you may be able to apply for a 50% discount on the council tax, depending on the local council.
You’re less likely to get the discount if the property is unfurnished and if it has been empty for more than 2 years, you’ll have to pay an empty house council tax premium.
If the property has been empty and unfurnished for five or more years, the normal tax rate can even triple.
The only times an empty property premium won’t apply is if the house isn’t possible to live in or needs major structural works to make sure it’s ‘wind and watertight’.
There are certain properties which may qualify for council tax exemption. These are:
- an annexe
- an empty property that’s owned and last used by a registered charity as part of their work
- an empty property that’s the responsibility of a trustee following bankruptcy
- an empty caravan pitch or boat mooring
- a property being held empty for use by a minister of religion.
Ways to avoid paying the tax
There are a few legal ways to avoid paying council tax on your empty property, some more obvious than others.
The first would be to rent out your property to a tenant. If you do, the house will no longer be empty and the tenant will be responsible for paying the council tax as well as their rent. As a landlord, you’ll also have a lucrative source of passive income.
Using a property guardian has become more popular in recent years, with discounted rent being an attractive option for would-be tenants. Similar to renting, a property guardian will pay council tax and some rent while keeping an eye on the property and keeping it safe from vandalism or burglars.
We would also recommend doing research into exemptions. If a property is left furnished it isn’t automatically classed as empty.
Even though there isn’t a legal definition of an unfurnished property, furnished properties are expected to have white goods, beds or even chairs and basic furniture.
Sitting on an empty property for too long will only be a drain on your bank balance
By getting in contact with the team at Dunkley’s, you can take the steps towards making your property profitable.