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Empty homes

When a home becomes unoccupied and unfurnished, it will be exempt for seven days, then a full charge will be due. Find out more.

Long term empty premium

When the home has been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years, the charge will  be increased by the following percentages.

The table shows charge increases per financial year depending on the number of years property has been empty

Financial year

Period empty

Increase in charge by

2018-19 (and earlier)

More than 2 years

50 per cent


More than 2 years

100 per cent


Less than 5 years

100 per cent


5 years or more

200 per cent

2021-22 and beyond

Less than 5 years

100 per cent


5 years to 10 years

200 per cent


10 years or more

300 per cent

This long term empty premium does not apply to:

  • second homes

  • annexes used as part of the main house

  • properties where the usual occupier is required to live elsewhere by the Ministry of Defence, such as: service personnel posted away from home

In these circumstances a full charge will apply.

If you buy a property which has already been empty for two years, this additional charge will apply to you immediately, even if you are refurbishing the property. Also you will not be entitled to the seven day discount (exemption).

Second homes

A second furnished home, where no-one lives permanently, is charged at the full rate.


Some empty properties will be exempt from Council Tax. Find out more on Council Tax property exemptions.

Owner / landlord

If you are the owner or landlord of a property which you rent out, please let us know when you change tenants by completing our Owner/Landlord Online Form.

Getting a property back into use

We may be able to help you in getting a property back into use.

Set out below are the incentives that we may provide to owners of long term empty dwellings:

  • Home Improvement Grants (subject to eligibility and conditions relating to rent levels and nomination rights)

  • Home Trust Loan Scheme (subject to eligibility, without the conditions above)

  • Advice on letting properties on Assured Shorthold Tenancies

  • Surveying services to assist in organising works

  • Assistance to access a reduced rate of VAT for properties empty over two years, or exemption if property is empty for more than 10 years.

For further information, see our Housing Grants page or call 01483 444319.

It is also important that you are aware of the way local authorities can deal with empty dwellings, since the introduction of the Housing Act 2004. When a property has been left uninhabited for two years or more, we may apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) if it is apparent that the owner has no intention of bringing the property back into use.

If we are successful in obtaining the Order, we can take over the running of the property and bring it back into use by force.

We would try to work informally with property owners to assist them before considering such enforcement action.