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Second homes or properties and the Council Tax

Second homes or properties and the Council Tax

If you have two homes, or two properties, you may have to pay Council Tax for both of them, unless an exemption applies, or somebody else has their sole or main residence in your other property. You will have to pay the usual Council Tax for the property which is your main home – this will normally be either 100% or 75%, depending on how many people live there. But you may also have to pay the full amount of Council Tax for the second home or property.

Empty second homes or properties

Until 01.04.13, an exemption applied for unoccupied and unfurnished homes (exemption class C). However, Council Tax law changed and from 01.04.13, that exemption no longer exists. Instead, councils can decide how much discount to grant for empty properties in these circumstances. 

For 2013/14, Leeds City Council decided to allow no discount at all.

For 2014/15 - with effect from 01.04.2014, 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

If you own an unoccupied and unfurnished property that is empty for over 7 days, you will therefore be liable for the full Council Tax.  If the property remains empty for more than 2 years, the level of charge will increase – see the next paragraph.  (However if you are renting out the empty property to a tenant, in some circumstances they will be liable for the empty charges - see the related page 'Empty properties and the Council Tax.')

Property empty for over 2 years

Once a property has been empty for over 2 years, a ‘long-term empty premium’ can be applied, if councils wish to apply it.  Leeds City Council has decided to set a premium of 50%, so the rate of Council Tax payable is 150% for properties empty for over 2 years. 

This decision is in line with the Council's policy on long-term empty properties.  The strategy is designed to return to use property which has been empty for long periods and which can contribute to the decline of areas of the city.

It may be that you are trying to either sell the property or find new occupiers.  However, now that the decision has been made to grant no discount, this will apply to all empty domestic properties in Leeds which would previously have qualified for exemption class C .

Furnished second homes, or furnished unoccupied properties 

Until 01.04.13, councils had to apply a minimum of 10% discount for a furnished property which was nobody’s main home.  However, Council Tax law changed so that councils are no longer obliged to grant any discount at all.  From 01.04.13, Leeds will award no discount for an unoccupied but furnished property, so if you own a furnished second home or property that is nobody’s main residence, you will usually be liable for the full Council Tax. However, if you are renting the property out to a tenant, in some circumstances the tenant may be liable - see the related page 'Rented properties and the Council Tax'.

‘Job-related’ second homes

If you live in a particular property because of your job, different rules may apply. If your main residence is somewhere else, the 'job-related dwelling' may qualify for a 50% discount. Or, if the ‘job-related dwelling’ is your main residence, your other home may qualify for the 50% discount. See the downloadable sheet 'Job-related second homes' in the Documents section.

The information above is for guidance only and covers straightforward situations. Please contact us for more information before you make any decision based on the information given here.

What can I do if I don't agree with my bill?

There is no right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal about the Council's decision not to allow a discount for empty properties or furnished second/unoccupied homes in Leeds, or to charge a premium for properties empty for over two years.

However, you can still appeal if:

• you believe the period you are being charged for is wrong, or
• you think are not the liable person, or
• you have applied for an exemption and been turned down.

See the downloadable pdf ‘Appeals against liability’ in the Documents section for more information.

I have moved to a new house. My old house is empty and for sale. Must I pay Council Tax on both?

You might. Up to 31 March 2013, an empty property qualified for an exemption from Council Tax for up to 6 months from the date it became empty.  However from 01.04.13, the exemption no longer exists and the full Council Tax is payable for an empty property (unless a different exemption exists). If the property remains empty for over 2 years, an extra 'premium' of 50% is payable, so the amount of Council Tax goes up to 150%.

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