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Council Tax - exemptions, discounts and increases (unoccupied properties)

Empty property surcharge

From 1 April 2019 a 100% increase in the Council Tax charge will apply to properties that have been continuously unoccupied for more than 12 months, or 2 years where the property is being actively marketed for sale or rent. This increase is known as an Empty property surcharge but may also be referred to as a ‘levy’ or ‘variation’. This will result in a 200% Council Tax charge. This increase doesn’t apply to Scottish Water charges for water and wastewater.

Your property will be liable for the 200% Council Tax charge if:

  • it has been continuously unoccupied for more than 12 months and is not up for sale or rent; or
  • it has been marketed for sale or rent and has been unoccupied for 2 years or more; and
  • it's not entitled to any of the reductions available on unoccupied properties; and
  • it’s not a purpose built holiday home or job related accommodation

We are encouraging owners to bring long-term empty properties back into use and help increase the supply of available housing for those who need homes.

Properties which lie empty for long periods of time are a wasted resource and can cause the following problems:

  • Be an eyesore in the neighbourhood
  • Attract crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Reduce the value of surrounding properties
  • Be costly for the owner to maintain
  • Be costly for the council to investigate and administer

If your property is being actively marketed for sale or let, and has been unoccupied for more than 12 months but less than 24 months, you will be able to reduce the Council Tax charge to 90% but only for a maximum period of 12 months.

The period of time a property is deemed as ‘unoccupied’ is calculated from the first day it became empty, even if this was prior to 1 April 2019. This may have occurred before you bought or rented the property, and means that if the property has been lying empty previously, the level and duration of any reduction you are entitled to may be affected. For the purpose of Council Tax reductions and increases, a property that has been occupied for a period of less than 3 months is still considered to be unoccupied for that period.

Whatever the reason for your property being empty and whatever your intentions are for the property, there may be ways we can assist you in bringing it back into use – see Advice and information for owners of long term empty properties for further information.

If you have exhausted all the exemptions and discounts that are available and the property is now subject to the 200% charge, this must be paid.

If you're having difficulties making these payments, contact us for advice. If you're experiencing other financial difficulties, you can contact your nearest Money Matters Advice Service for free impartial advice. Further details can be found in our Debt Advice page.