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Council Tax exemptions

 The following information is intended as guidance only and is not a full statement of the law.

If you claim an exemption and your circumstances change you must let us know within 21 days of the change or face a penalty.

Exemption classes

Unoccupied and owned by a charity

An unoccupied property owned by a charity and last used by the charity in connection with its charitable objectives. This exemption can only apply for a maximum of six months provided the charity retain ownership and the dwelling remains unoccupied.

Empty due to a person being detained (prison or hospital)

An unoccupied property, where the person who would be liable for council tax is in prison or some other place of detention, is exempt.  Except where the person is in prison for non-payment of Council Tax or a fine.

Empty due to a person having gone to live in hospital or a care home

An unoccupied property where the person who would be liable for Council Tax has left in order to live in a hospital, residential care home or hostel, where the person is receiving care or treatment, is exempt. The exemption applies where the person has their sole or main residence in a hospital or care home etc

Empty and requiring or undergoing major repairs or structural alteration

Empty and unfurnished

From 1 April 2013 both of the above exemptions have been replaced with a local discount.  Please refer to Council Tax discounts.

Council Tax payer deceased

An unoccupied property is exempt if the person who was liable to council tax has died, the property has remained unoccupied since the date of death and probate has not been granted. The exemption continues for six months after the grant of probate or the letters of administration

Occupation prohibited by law

A property is exempt if its occupation is restricted or prohibited by law or if it is kept unoccupied because of impending compulsory purchase.

Unoccupied dwelling held for a minister of religion

A property which is being held available for a minister of religion as a residence from which they will perform the duties of their office.

Person living elsewhere to receive personal care

Properties where a person has gone to live with someone else in order to receive care.  They must be receiving care due to old age, disablement, illness, past or present alcohol or drug dependence, or past or present mental disorder. The unoccupied property must previously have been the sole or main residence of the absent person.

Dwelling left empty by a person providing personal care

This exemption applies where the owner or tenant has left a property unoccupied, having changed their place of residence in order to provide care for someone else. The same conditions with regard to the reasons for the need for care apply as dwellings left empty by a person providing personal care, shown above.  They must have been away for this reason since they left.

Dwelling left empty by a student

Where a student is the owner of an unoccupied property it is exempt provided that when it was last occupied it was the sole or main residence of that student, and that no one else, other than students, lived there.

Unoccupied repossessed dwelling

An unoccupied property due to a mortgage lender (bank, building society or finance company) taking possession, usually because a borrower has failed to keep up mortgage repayments.

Halls of residence

Halls of residence for students are exempt provided the accommodation is owned or managed by a prescribed educational establishment. The accommodation must be provided mainly for students, which does not prevent part being used to accommodate staff or other persons.

Dwellings occupied only by students, school or college leavers or certain spouses or dependants of students

Any property which is occupied only by students and/or school or college leavers and/or student's spouse or dependant who is not a British citizen and cannot legally work or claim benefits, is exempt. Should the students, or relevant persons, leave the property unoccupied during school/college holidays the exemption will continue if the students, or relevant persons, retain the right to occupy and has the intention to use the dwelling as term time accommodation.

Armed forces accommodation (UK Forces)

Living accommodation for UK armed forces which is owned by the Secretary of State for Defence is exempt whether occupied or not. This includes barracks and other accommodation on military bases, together with married quarters and any other property, wherever located, provided the accommodation is held for the purposes of forces accommodation. Contributions in lieu of Council Tax are payable to Local Authorities on such properties.

Members and dependants of visiting forces

A property is exempt if at least one person who would be liable is a member (or dependant) of a visiting force and is neither a British citizen nor usually resident in the UK. A property is exempt under this category even if not all the liable persons are associated with a visiting force.

Unoccupied dwelling held by a trustee in bankruptcy

Where the person who would be liable to the council tax in respect of an unoccupied property is a trustee in bankruptcy, the property is exempt. The exemption applies whether the unoccupied property is furnished or not.

Caravan pitches and boat moorings

A caravan pitch or a boat mooring will constitute a 'dwelling' for Council Tax purposes if its next use is likely to be domestic. A pitch, which is not occupied by a caravan, or a mooring which is not occupied by a boat, is exempt for the whole of any period during which this situation exists

All occupiers under 18

A property occupied only by a person or persons aged under 18.

Unoccupied annex

Where an unoccupied property forms part of a single property which includes another dwelling (for example an annex/granny flat) and cannot be let separately from that other dwelling without a breach of planning control. Please also refer to 'occupied by a dependant relative' section below.

Dwellings occupied only by severely mentally impaired

This applies to properties that are only occupied by a person or persons who are severely mentally impaired as defined for the purposes of Council Tax discount and who are entitled to or in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • an increase in Disablement Pension
  • Unemployability Supplement
  • Constant Attendance Allowance payable under the industrial injuries or war pension schemes
  • Unemployability Allowance payable under the industrial injuries or war pension schemes
  • Income Support, which includes a Disability Premium because of incapacity for work
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  Standard and enhanced rate of the daily living component
  • Universal Credit which includes an amount in respect of the fact that the person has limited capability for work or work related activity

 A dwelling is also exempt if it is only occupied by:

  • severely mentally impaired person or persons
  • students or relevant persons

Occupied by a diplomat

Main residence of a person with diplomatic privilege or immunity

Occupied by a dependant relative

A property that forms part of a single property which includes another dwelling (for example an annex/granny flat) where a dependant relative lives.

A relative shall be regarded as dependant if they are either:

  • aged 65 years or more
  • severely mentally impaired within the meaning given in paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to the Act
  • substantially and permanently disabled (whether by illness, injury, congenital deformity or otherwise

A relative is defined as:

  • the spouse of that person
  • parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece or is the parent or child or such a person, and

    relationship by marriage shall be treated as a relationship by blood

    • a relationship between a man and a woman living together as husband and wife shall be treated as a relationship by marriage
    • a civil partnership, and
    • the stepchild of a person shall be treated as his child

What to do if you think you may qualify a exemption

Apply for a Council Tax exemption

Please quote your Council Tax reference number and the exemption you would like to claim.  We may need to send you an application form or conduct a visit.

You have an exemption and the circumstances have changed

You must let us know within 21 days if your bill says you are given an exemption and you think:

  • it should not have been given
  • it should have been less
  • there has been a change in circumstances that means the exemption is wrong

Failure to do so could result in a penalty being imposed.

Inform us of a change in circumstances

You think our decision is wrong

If you have applied for an exemption, and you have been advised that you are not entitled. If you think this is incorrect, you must first notify us

Please quote your Council Tax reference number and explain the reasons why you are unhappy. 

Notify us if you think our decision is incorrect

If you are still unhappy with our decision you can then appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service

You should continue to pay your Council Tax bill while your appeal is outstanding. Any overpayment will be refunded in full if your appeal is successful.