Council tax discounts and exemptions

Council tax discounts and exemptions


Council Tax Empty Property Discount Consultation

Walsall Council, like many others, is experiencing significant financial challenges. Over the last four years Walsall Council has seen government grant funding reduce significantly and since 2010 the council has reduced its spending by £79.67m.

With funding continuing to reduce and with costs rising we will need to save £29m in 2015/16, and £86m in total over the next 4 years.

At the Cabinet meeting of 29 October draft budget proposals were agreed as a basis for consultation. You can find out details of all our draft budget proposals and have your say on our website www.walsall.gov.uk/budgethaveyoursay No decisions on the budget have yet been made.

Proposed changes to council tax discounts for empty homes

As part of the consultation on our draft budget proposals, we are now writing to you to specifically seek your views on proposed changes to these discounts.

The current discounts are:

  • 100% discount in council tax for the first three months when a property is unoccupied and unfurnished

  • 50% discount for the first twelve months that a property requires major repair or is undergoing structural alteration.  

The options

The options below have been chosen to ensure that there is a simple and understandable discount scheme for empty properties. It ensures that there is a constant approach and the costs associated with administration of the scheme are kept to a minimum allowing for the maximisation of income. This maximisation would result in reducing the cuts needed to other area that have a direct impact on the vulnerable. The current budget proposals include a saving of £1m from changes to the discount for empty properties.

Amending the discount on unoccupied and unfurnished discounts to option1 or 2 will achieve this saving. However retaining the discounts at current levels and time period or just amending the discount for properties requiring major repair work or undergoing structural alteration will not and the deficit in the Council’s budget would have to be found by making savings elsewhere or an increase in council tax

For properties that are unoccupied and unfurnished the proposed options are:

Option 1 – completely remove the discount for empty and unfurnished properties

Option 2 – retain the 100% discount for empty and unfurnished properties but reduce the period of the discount to the first 7 days

Option 3 – retain the 100% discount and 3 month time period

For properties requiring major repair or undergoing structural alteration the proposed options are:

Option 1 – completely remove the discount for these properties

Option 2 – retain the 50% discount and 12 month time period

To have your say please complete this short online survey

The deadline for responses is 24 December 2014.

Unoccupied dwellings

100% discount for the first three months unoccupied and unfurnished. 50% discount for the first twelve months uninhabitable and require, or undergoing major repair work or structural alterations.

Occupied dwellings

The full council tax bill assumes that there are at least two adults living in a dwelling. If only one adult lives in a dwelling (as their main home), the council tax bill will be reduced by a quarter (25 percent).

Some people will not be counted when looking at the number of adults resident in a dwelling if they meet certain conditions:

  • full time students, student nurses, apprentices and Youth Training trainees, non-British spouses of students
  • patients resident in a hospital
  • people who are being looked after in care homes
  • people who are severely mentally impaired
  • people staying in certain hostels and night shelters
  • 18 and 19 year-olds who are at, or have just left, school
  • care workers working for low pay, usually for charities
  • people caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • members of visiting forces and certain international institutions
  • members of religious communities (i.e., monks and nuns)
  • people in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of council tax or a fine)
  • diplomats

Long term empty properties

If a property has been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years (and does not qualify for an exemption) then it will be subject to a 50% premium

The full council tax bill assumes that there are at least two adults living in a dwelling. If only one adult lives in a dwelling (as their main home), the council tax bill will be reduced by a quarter (25%). From 1 April 2009, if a dwelling is no-one's main home and is substantially unfurnished, then after the relevant exemption period, full council tax is payable without any reduction.

Some people will not be counted (or disregarded) when looking at the number of adults living in a dwelling if they meet any of the following conditions:

  • full time students, student nurses, apprentices and Youth Training trainees, non-British spouses of students
  • patients resident in a hospital
  • people who are being looked after in care homes
  • people who are severely mentally impaired
  • people staying in certain hostels and night shelters
  • 18 and 19 year-olds who are at, or have just left, school
  • care workers working for low pay, usually for charities
  • people caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • members of visiting forces and certain international institutions
  • members of religious communities (i.e., monks and nuns)
  • people in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of council tax or a fine)
  • diplomats

Council tax exemptions - vacant properties

Certain dwellings are exempt from council tax, including some vacant properties which:

  • are owned by a charity (exempt for up to six months)
  • are left empty by someone who has gone into prison (except those in prison for non-payment of council tax or a fine) or has moved to receive personal care in a hospital/home or elsewhere
  • are waiting for probate or letters of administration to be granted (and up to six months after)
  • are empty because their occupation is prohibited by law
  • are waiting to be occupied by a minister of religion
  • are left empty by someone living elsewhere and providing personal care to another person
  • are left empty by students
  • have been repossessed
  • are the responsibility of a bankrupt's trustee
  • are caravan pitches or boat moorings
  • are dwellings in the form of an annexe to another occupied dwelling

Council tax exemptions - occupied properties

Some occupied properties can also be exempt from council tax, such as:

  • students' halls of residence
  • dwellings solely occupied by students
  • UK armed forces accommodation
  • visiting forces accommodation
  • a dwelling occupied only by a person or persons under 18
  • a dwelling occupied only by a person or persons who is/are severely mentally impaired and who would otherwise be liable to pay council tax
  • a dwelling occupied by a diplomat
  • a dwelling in the form of an annexe to another occupied dwelling which is occupied by an elderly or disabled relative


Visit us

You can call in to see us at the First Stop Shop in the main Civic Centre entrance in Darwall Street.

Our opening hours are:

  • Monday - 8.45am to 5.15pm
  • Tuesday - 8.45am to 5.15pm
  • Wednesday - 9.30am to 5.15pm
  • Thursday - 8.45am to 5.15pm
  • Friday - 8.45am to 4.45pm

You can use our online contact form for general enquiries, compliments and complaints.

Contact us

Local Taxation Service
Walsall Council
PO Box 23
Walsall
WS1 1TW

Enquiry line 0300 555 2851
Payment line 0300 555 2852 (24 hours)
Fax 01922 723337
Email counciltax@walsall.gov.uk

By texbox - for deaf or speech impaired users, access texbox or textphone on 01922 654000

This page was last updated on 04 December 2014