New Government legislation allows councils to make changes to Council Tax discounts and exemptions in respect of second homes and certain empty properties. There is also the power for councils to charge an additional amount of Council Tax on properties that have been continuously empty for more than two years.
Summary of these Changes
Sefton Council reviewed the Government’s proposals and agreed a set of changes to the existing Council Tax discounts and exemptions, effective from April 2013 and April 2014 respectively.
From 1st April 2013, full Council Tax became payable on second homes (furnished properties where no-one lives or the owner has a main home elsewhere). Empty properties were no longer exempt from payment for the first 6 months. Instead, a 100% Discount was allowed for one month, then a charge of 50% of the Council tax was payable for the next 5 months. After this period, full council tax became payable.
From 1st April 2014, the five month period payable at 50% was removed. This means that following the initial one month’s 100% discount, full Council Tax is now payable.
Empty properties undergoing or requiring major or structural repair are no longer exempt from payment for up to 12 months. Instead, a charge of 50% of the Council tax will be payable for up to 12 months. After this period, the full council tax is payable.
Properties that have been empty for more than 2 years will attract a premium of 50%. A charge of 150% of the Council tax will be payable.
What Do the Changes Mean?
Some property owners now have to pay more Council Tax than they may have done previously. These are:
- Owners of second homes
- Owners of empty properties
- Owners of properties that will have been empty for 2 years or more
- Anyone who owns an empty property that is in need of, or undergoing, major works or structural repair
What We Cannot Change
We are sometimes asked why we do not charge Council Tax to certain people, or why we do not give exemptions to other people. The answer is that most of the Council Tax rules are set by government legislation and we do not have the power to change them.
Here are a few examples of things that we have no discretion to change:
- decisions about whether a property is liable or not for Council Tax and the band that it is in (it is the government's Valuation Office Agency that decides this)
- the rules around who is liable to pay Council Tax
- the amount of the Sole Occupier Discount (25%) or criteria for claiming it
- the rules around other properties being exempt from Council Tax: e.g. where the owner has died or in a nursing home
- the rules around other properties being allowed a discount from Council Tax: e.g. where certain occupants are students, carers or severely mentally impaired.