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

Unoccupied and unfurnished property and second homes

If no one is living in the property and there is no furniture you may be able to reduce your council tax bill by 100% for up to 6 months from the date the property was last occupied for at least 3 months.

For the purpose of this reduction, 'unfurnished' means that the property doesn't contain any furniture other than:

  • carpets, curtains or blinds
  • cookers, gas or electric fires
  • fitted wardrobes or cupboards
  • fridge, freezer, washing machine or dishwasher

If the property has already been exempt for the maximum 6 month period and there is still no one living in it and no furniture you may be able to reduce your Council Tax by 50% for up to another 6 months. This will not reduce your water and waste water charges. 

If the property is unoccupied but furnished, you may be able to reduce your Council Tax charge by 10% for up to 12 months. If it is a second home, you may be entitled to a 10% discount for as long as you meet the qualifying criteria (see second home discount below).  

From 1 April 2019, if a property has been unoccupied for more than 12 months and does not meet the qualifying criteria for exemption or discount, it will be subject to an Empty Property Surcharge. This will result in a 200% Council Tax charge. However, if the property is actively being marketed for sale or let, you may be able to have the Council Tax charge reduced to 90% for a further 12 months. Once the property has been unoccupied for more than 24 months, no further reduction can be given.

Timescales relating to unoccupied properties

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.

If the address you are/were living at is in South Lanarkshire, we will confirm your residency there via our own records where possible. However, if it is not in South Lanarkshire, or you are/were living with friends or relatives (in South Lanarkshire or elsewhere), you must provide proof of your residency there. This could include a copy of your Council Tax bill from your local authority (if you are the owner or tenant) or a letter/email from the people you are/were living with. Please have this ready to upload before you begin your application. Help with uploading evidence is provided below.

You may be asked to provide further documentary evidence in support of your application. We will contact you if necessary so please make sure you provide your contact details.

Second homes

A second home is defined in council tax legislation as a property which is:

  • Furnished; and
  • No one’s sole or main residence; and
  • Occupied for at least 25 days in any 12-month period.

Prior to 1 April 2024 second homes were entitled to a 10% discount on the council tax charge. This discount did not apply to the water and wastewater charges.

On 19 December 2023, the Scottish Government introduced regulations which enabled councils to increase the council tax charge on second homes from 1 April 2024 by up to 100%. On 20 March 2024 South Lanarkshire Council approved the implementation of a 100% surcharge on second homes (resulting in a 200% council tax charge), effective from 1 April 2024. This surcharge does not apply to water and wastewater charges. 

Help with uploading evidence

You will be asked to upload evidence on the application form. We can accept jpegs and pdf files but we advise pdfs as the file size is smaller.

Please don’t take photos of your PC screen or phone screen as these can be blurry. If you need to do this you should use the screenshot/print screen function on your PC or phone.

When you take a photo of a document such as a bank statement sometimes the file sizes are too big, especially if you have to upload a lot of different images to your form. This can cause the form to fail and we advise converting jpegs to pdfs. You can do this in the following ways.

On an Android phone

  • select image you want
  • from the menu select print image
  • select Save as pdf
  • choose where to save it
  • save

On an iPhone

  • select the image you want
  • tap the sharing button and select Print
  • at the Printer options screen, use a spreading gesture with your fingers on the image preview to show Save as pdf
  • select Share the converted photo as PDF and choose where to save it  

On a PC

  • right click on the icon of the image
  • select Convert to Adobe pdf
  • click on the Save file icon in the top left hand corner
  • select where to save it
  • name it
  • save