This page tells you who is responsible for paying Council Tax for empty properties.
If there are no residents in a property, the owner is liable. Owner in this context means a person who:
- has a ‘material interest’ in the whole or any part of the dwelling
- at least part of the dwelling, or the part concerned, is not subject to a material interest inferior to his interest - e.g. a tenancy exists on the property but it remains unoccupied.
‘Material interest’ means a freehold interest or a leasehold interest which was granted for a term of six months or more. Sometimes a tenant can be classed as ‘the owner’ if they have a tenancy agreement for six months or more. But if a tenant's six-month tenancy has ended and their tenancy has become a 'rolling' periodic tenancy, they usually can't be held liable for any empty charges once they move out. However, following a recent Court of Appeal judgement, if a tenancy agreement includes a continuation clause which extends the tenancy beyond the fixed period, then the tenant will still be classed as ‘the owner‘ and therefore liable for any empty charges until the tenancy is terminated.
There is more information about rented properties on the related page Rented properties and the Council Tax.
Unoccupied and unfurnished properties from April 2014
With effect from 1 April 2014 - a discount of 100% can be granted for a property which is unoccupied and unfurnished for a period of 7 days or less, so no Council Tax is payable for them. However if the property is empty for over 7 days, no discount can be allowed so full Council Tax is payable from the date the property first became unoccupied and unfurnished.
Unoccupied but furnished properties
If a property is empty and furnished, it is liable for 100% Council Tax. This also applies to second homes - see related page 'Second homes or properties and the Council Tax.
Properties empty and unfurnished over 2 years
Once a property has been empty for over 2 years, if councils want to they can apply a long-term empty premium. Leeds City Council has decided to set a premium of 50%. This means that for properties empty for over 2 years the rate of Council Tax payable is 150%. This decision is in line with the Council's policy on long-term empty properties.
The strategy is designed to return to use properties which have been empty for long periods and which can contribute to the decline of areas of the city.
The 2 years is calculated from when the property became empty and unfurnished, therefore this may be before you became liable for the property.
Please note: there is no right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal about the council’s decisions relating to empty properties in Leeds.