Council Tax - exemptions

Is my property exempt from Council Tax?

Council Tax discounts and exemptions - important changes from April 2013:

Since Monday 1st April 2013 the amount of Council Tax being charged on certain empty and unoccupied properties has changed.

These changes to our discounts and exemptions are due to:

  • financial pressures as a direct result of government cuts
  • changes in regulations as part of the Local Government Finance Act on Thursday 1st November 2012.

For more information on these changes, visit our frequently asked questions page.

The changes from 1st April 2013

  • properties previously granted a six month exemption due to being empty and unfurnished are now charged 100% Council Tax.
  • properties previously granted a 10% long term empty discount (long-term empty means a property empty and unoccupied between six months and two years) are now charged 100% Council Tax.
  • properties previously granted a 12 month exemption due to being unoccupied and requiring or undergoing major structural repair are now charged 100% Council Tax.
  • unless covered by an exemption, properties which have been unoccupied for over two years are now charged an empty home premium of 50%. For this reason, if the property has been empty for over two years charges will be raised at 150% Council Tax irrespective of the length of ownership.
  • properties previously granted a 10% second home discount are now charged at 100% Council Tax. This does not include tied accommodation that will continue to receive a 50% discount.

Our Empty Homes Service may offer you an interest free loan to help renovate and reoccupy a property that is currently empty. For more information, visit our empty homes web page.

If you have proven financial hardship which has been caused by these changes, you may be able to claim for Council Tax Hardship under the Single Discretionary Award Scheme.

Exemptions can last longer than six months for some properties and there are 21 classes of exemptions:

Class A - Requiring/undergoing major repairs or structural alteration

  • This exemption class was abolished on 1st April 2013.

Class B - Owned by a charity

  • Criteria - unoccupied properties owned by a charity (regardless of whether it is furnished). The property must have been last occupied in furtherance of the objectives of the charity.
  • Time period - up to six months.
  • Requirements - confirm in writing and submit any relevant documentation to support your claim.

Class C - Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished

  • This exemption class was abolished on 1 April 2013.
  • You may be able to claim a 100 percent discount for any periods prior to this date where a property is empty and substantially unfurnished for up to six months.
  • Requirements - must confirm in writing.

Class D - Occupant has been detained

  • Criteria - the property is now unoccupied as the resident is detained, e.g. under the Mental Health Act or in prison.
  • Time period - this exemption lasts for as long as the person is detained.
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the person has been detained. This should include the date they were detained, the expected date of release, name of the establishment, their reference number and the name and address of anyone dealing with their affairs. It should also be stamped by the relevant establishment.

Class E - Person living in a care/residential home

  • Criteria - an unoccupied property that was previously the main home of a person who is now a permanent hospital patient, or is in a residential care/nursing home.
  • Time period - on-going until the situation or liability alters.
  • Requirements - written confirmation stating that the person is resident in hospital/care home and that their property has been left unoccupied. This should include the date they left, name of the hospital/care home, whether they intend to return to the property and the name and address of anyone dealing with their affairs.  
  • Please note, in order to qualify, the move must be permanent.

Class F - Liable person has passed away

  • Criteria - the property is unoccupied following the death of the liable person.
  • Time period - an exemption is granted from the date of death, until probate is granted. Once probate or letters of administration are granted, a further exemption of up to six months can be given.
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the person has passed away and the property is unoccupied. This should include the date of death, the name and address of the solicitors and executors. You must also advise us once probate has been awarded.
  • Please also notify us of the date when the property becomes unfurnished.

Additionally, once the property has been transferred to a beneficiary a 100% Council Tax charge will be due.

Class G - Occupation forbidden by law

  • Criteria - a property that is unoccupied because it has been forbidden by law, for example due to a planning restriction.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - proof of the legal notice/restriction on the property. An inspection of the property will also need to be made.

Class H - Awaiting occupation by a minister of religion

  • Criteria - an unoccupied property awaiting occupation by ministers of religion.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written documentation to confirm that the property is unoccupied and will be occupied in the future only by a minister of religion.

Class I - Person receiving care elsewhere

  • Criteria - a property that is unoccupied because the occupant is now living elsewhere (but not a nursing home, hospital or residential care home - see class E) and receiving personal care due to old age, disability, illness, mental disorder or alcohol/drug dependence
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the person is receiving care elsewhere and that the property is unoccupied. This should include the date they left, the new address, the reasons for care being required, whether they intend to return to the property and the name and address of anyone dealing with their affairs.

Class J - Person providing care elsewhere

  • Criteria - a property that is unoccupied because the occupant is now living elsewhere to provide personal care for someone else due to old age, disability, illness, mental disorder or alcohol/drug dependence.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the person is resident elsewhere to provide care and that the property is unoccupied. This should include the date they left, name and address of the person for whom they provide care, the address they are residing at, the reason for providing care and whether they intend to return to the property.

Class K - Students resident elsewhere

  • Criteria - an unoccupied property that is owned by a student(s) who were liable for payment of the council tax who left the property empty to study elsewhere (also see classes M and N).
  • Time period - this exemption applies for the period while the liable person(s) is a student.
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the students are resident elsewhere and that the property is unoccupied. This should include the date they left, the address they are residing at during term time and whether they have an intention to return to the property. A student certificate should also be provided stating the name of the student, that they are studying full time and the start and end dates of the course.

Class L - Unoccupied repossessed properties

  • Criteria - a property that has been repossessed by a mortgagee, such as a bank or building society.
  • Time period - this exemption lasts until the property is resold.
  • Requirements - written confirmation from the bank or building society that the property has been repossessed, including the date of possession.

Class M - University or college halls of residence

  • Criteria - university or college halls of residence managed by an educational establishment or charity, which are used mainly for students (also see classes K and N). This does not include accommodation for traditional student nurses.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation from the university or college confirming the property’s use. This should be on official headed paper.

Class N - Occupied by full-time students

  • Criteria - a property that is occupied only by full time students (also see classes K and M).
  • Time period - this exemption lasts as long as all occupants are full time students.
  • Requirements - confirmation of the names and ages of all occupants, the date on which they occupied the property and proof of their student status. This should be a student certificate or an official letter from the educational establishment stating the name of the student, that they are studying full time, and the start and end dates of the course.

To apply for this exemption please complete and return this form

Class O - Armed forces accommodation

  • Criteria - properties that are armed forces accommodation owned by the Secretary of State for Defence. This exemption applies whether the property is occupied or not.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation of the property's use. This should be on official headed paper.

Class P - Occupied by members of visiting forces

  • Criteria - a property that is occupied by members of visiting forces.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation of the property's use and the occupant's status. This should be on official headed paper.

Class Q - Unoccupied property left empty by a bankrupt person

  • Criteria - an unoccupied property where the liable person has been made bankrupt and the property forms part of the bankruptcy.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation from the trustee in bankruptcy that the property is unoccupied and under their control and the date that it became unoccupied.

Class R - Unoccupied pitch or mooring for a caravan or boat

  • Criteria - an unoccupied pitch for caravan or unoccupied moorings for a boat.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the pitch or mooring is unoccupied. An inspection of the site will also need to be made.

Class S - All occupants are under 18 years of age

  • Criteria - a property where all occupants are under 18 years old.
  • Time period - this will last until one or more of the occupants reaches the age of 18 years.
  • Requirements - written confirmation of the names and dates of birth of all occupants.

Class T - An unoccupied annexe

  • Criteria - this is an unoccupied annexe of an occupied property (also see class W) which cannot be let separately without a planning breach.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the property is an annex of another property and is unoccupied. This should include the address of the other property. An inspection will also need to be made.

Class U - Residents are severely mentally impaired

Criteria - a property that is occupied only by severely mentally impaired people (or where any other occupiers are full time students) and one of those persons is liable to pay the bill. Firstly, the severely mentally impaired person(s) must be entitled to one of the following benefits and not necessarily receiving them:

  • Personal Independence Payment, payable at the highest rate or middle rate or the care component of a Disability Living Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Increased Disablement Pension where constant attendance is needed
  • Disability Working Allowance
  • Unemployability Supplement
  • Disability Premium included in Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • The disability element of Working Tax Credit
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.

Secondly, a qualified medical practitioner (usually your doctor) must confirm to the council that in their medical opinion all residents of the property are "severely mentally impaired".

What is the definition of "severely mentally impaired"?

"Severely mentally impaired" means a person who has severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused), which appears to be permanent

Time period - this exemption is indefinite.

Please complete and return the Council Tax exemption claim form.

Class V - Occupied by diplomats

  • Criteria - a property that is occupied only by diplomats or persons working for certain international organisations.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation of the status of all residents within the property. This should be on official headed paper. Also a signed declaration stating that the occupiers have no other main residence within the UK.

Class W - Occupied annexe

  • Criteria - an annexe that is occupied by a dependent relative. This is a person who is aged 65 years or older, severely mentally impaired or substantially and permanently disabled.
  • Time period - this exemption is indefinite.
  • Requirements - written confirmation that the property is occupied, that it is an annexe of another property with that property address and proof of the reason for the occupier being a dependent (for example, an official letter confirming benefit entitlement). An inspection of the property will also need to be made.

How do I claim exemption from Council Tax?

We may need to see some evidence of entitlement. Please contact us and we will help you with your claim.

What should I do if I have an exemption but my circumstances have changed?

You must tell us about the changes and we will let you know how it affects your bill.

For example, if you move into a property which had been empty, you must tell us. If you don't, you could be fined.

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