Council Tax second homes

Last Updated: 21 November 2023

If you have two homes, or two properties, you may have to pay for both of them, unless:

  • an exemption applies
  • somebody else has their sole or main residence in one of the properties

Property being used as a holiday let

The rules regarding whether you will pay business rates changed on 1 April 2023 and now depend on how many nights your property is available to let each year and how many nights it was actually let.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will work out the rateable value of your property based on its type, size, location, quality and how much income you’re likely to make from letting it.

Rules from 1 April 2023

If your property is in England, it will be rated as a self-catering property and valued for business rates if it’s both:

  • available to let for short periods for at least 140 nights in total over the current and previous tax years
  • actually let for at least 70 nights in the last 12 months

So once your property has been available for letting for 140 days in the last 12 months, and has actually let for 70 days in the last 12 months your property can be rated, effective from the date on which both of these conditions are met. You can make a request to challenge a Council Tax band.

You can challenge your Council Tax band on the grounds that your property’s use has changed as it is now used for business.

The Valuation Office Agency will notify us of any amendments following your challenge and revised bills will be issued at that time. Until such time your property will remain in the Council Tax list as a second home and you should continue to pay your council tax bill.

If your property is removed from the council tax list you will need to arrange for a trade waste collection service for the waste and recycling.. Service providers in the area can be found online.

Empty second homes

From 1 April 2023, in the Westmorland and Furness Council area, properties which become unoccupied and substantially unfurnished will receive a 100% discount for the first six months.

This is a property based discount and it commences from when the property first became unoccupied and unfurnished, irrespective or any changes of ownership or tenants.

Council Tax discounts for uninhabitable and vacant properties

Those unoccupied and unfurnished for between three months and two years will have to pay the full Council Tax charge.

Second property empty for over two years

Once a property has been empty for over two years, a 'long-term empty premium' will be applied. From 1 April 2023, Westmorland and Furness Council has set the following premium charges:

Duration properties have been empty Previous payable New premium Date of effect
Properties unoccupied and unfurnished between 2 and 5 years 100% premium payable 200% Council Tax in total payable With effect from 1 April 2023
Properties unoccupied and unfurnished between 5 and 10 years 200% premium payable 300% Council Tax in total payable With effect fromm1 April 2023
Properties unoccupied and unfurnished over 10 years 300% premium payable 400% Council Tax in total payable With effect from 1 April 2024

These rates of Council Tax will be payable unless you qualify for an exception for the premium detailed within Council Tax Premium for empty properties.

Furnished second homes and unoccupied furnished properties

Westmorland and Furness Council will not offer a discount for an unoccupied furnished property. If you have a furnished second home that is nobody's main residence you have to pay the full Council Tax charge.

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 home may qualify for a 50% discount. If it is your main residence, your other home may qualify for the discount.

Council Tax discount for job-related accommodation

Premium charge for furnished second homes and unoccupied furnished properties

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is currently going through parliament and it includes proposals to allow the introduction of a new council tax premium on second homes of up to 100%.

Westmorland and Furness Council has agreed to introduce this premium from 1 April 2024, should the legislation pass.

We will provide further information about this premium and how it will be applied, when the legislation is passed.