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Council Tax information for landlords

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.


Generally, your tenant will be liable to pay the Council Tax from the date their tenancy agreement starts, up to the end of their tenancy agreement.

You will be liable for any period between tenants.

There are a few instances where an owner is liable, even where the property is rented out. These include:

  • houses in multiple occupation

  • care homes

  • houses of religious communities

  • some homes occupied by domestic servants

For more information on these exceptions, please call the Council Tax office on 0330 123 0081.

To minimise your bill, please let us know as soon as a tenancy starts or ends using our Owner/Landlord Online Form. 

Empty properties from 1 April 2019 onwards

When a home becomes unoccupied and substantially unfurnished it will attract a discount of 100 per cent (exempt) from Council Tax for up to seven days starting from the actual date the last occupier moved out. After seven days the full Council Tax charge applies.

This 100 per cent discount is property based and so a change of liable person will not trigger a further discount.

Usually a tenant will move out at the end of their tenancy and the landlord will be entitled to the seven day discount from the start of their liability.

However, if the tenant moves out before the end of their tenancy, the discount will start from the date the tenant moved out, not the date the tenancy ends. In this instance your tenant will be entitled to the discount. The discount will not restart when the liability reverts to your name at the end of the tenancy.

If any of the seven day discount remains, you will be entitled to the remaining period.

For example: if the tenancy ends on 20 September, but your tenant moved out on 17 September, the liability and discount would be split as follows:

Table showing breakdown of Council Tax to be paid by a landlord and their tenants at the end of a tenancy


Liability and discount

Up to 17 September

Tenant liable to full charge because they are living at the property

17 September to 19 September

Tenant liable, but 100 per cent discounted from Council Tax because the property is unoccupied (zero charge)

20 September to 23 September

Owner liable because the tenancy has ended, but discounted for the remainder of the seven day discount (zero charge)

24 September onwards

Owner liable, unoccupied charge (full charge) because the property has been unoccupied for more than seven days


In this instance, the seven day discount runs from 17 September to 23 September, with the liable person changing on 20 September when the tenancy ended. If the tenant had moved out before 13 September, then he or she would have been entitled to the full seven day discount, not you.

Clauses within a contract between yourself and your tenant on who should pay the Council Tax will have no bearing on who is legally liable to pay the Council Tax to Guildford Borough Council or who is entitled to the discount. The Council Tax legislation determines this.

Empty properties up to 31 March 2019

Prior to 1 April 2019, the unoccupied and substantially unfurnished discount was 100 per cent (exempt) from Council Tax for up to one calendar month starting from the actual date the last occupier moved out. After one month the full Council Tax charge applied.

Furnished and unoccupied property

If the property is furnished and unoccupied, then no one is entitled to this discount. It is a full charge for the tenant up to the end of the tenancy, then a full charge for the owner from that date onwards. This is often called a "second home" charge, even if the property is not used as a second home.

Long term empty charge

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

Empty property charge

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 5 years

100 per cent


5 years to 10 years

200 per cent


10 years or more

300 per cent


This long term empty charge 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).