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Some dwellings are exempt from the Council Tax. The following broadly explains which types of dwelling may be exempt and where they will be exempt only for a specified length of time.

Dwellings are exempt if they are:

  • occupied entirely by students, or by students as term time accommodation, or are a student hall of residence;
  • occupied only by people under the age of 18;
  • armed forces accommodation or dwellings where a member of a visiting force would otherwise be liable to pay;
  • occupied only by people who are severely mentally impaired who would otherwise be liable to pay the council tax. Such dwellings where the landlord or care home owner is liable are not exempt.
  • a dwelling which forms part of a single property including at least one other dwelling which is the sole or main residence of a dependent relative.

Dwellings are exempt for a limited period if: 

  • it is an unoccupied dwelling which forms part of the estate of a person who has died, for up to six months after the grant of probate or letters of administration.

The following statutory exemptions were in place until 31st March 2013 whereupon they were replaced with locally set discounts from 1st April 2013:-

  • they have been unoccupied and (except in the case of dwellings owned and last occupied by a charity) unfurnished, for up to six months;
  • it is a new dwelling, or a dwelling which has recently been the subject of major works or structural alteration, for up to six months after completion of the work, so long as they remain unoccupied and unfurnished;

Dwellings are exempt while they remain unoccupied if:

  • the owner is a student who last lived in the dwelling as their main home and becomes a student within 6 weeks of leaving;
  • it is left unoccupied by people who are in prison (except for non-payment of a fine or council tax). The dwelling must have been their main home immediately before they went into prison;
  • it is left unoccupied by people who have moved to receive personal care, whether in a hospital or home or elsewhere. They must have been away for this reason since they left;
  • it is left unoccupied by people who have moved to provide personal care to another person. They must have been away for this reason since they left;
  • it is an annexe which cannot be let separately from the main dwelling without breaching planning conditions;
  • dwellings where the liable person is a trustee in bankruptcy;
  • dwellings whose occupation is forbidden by law, or which are kept unoccupied because of impending compulsory purchase;
  • vicarages and similar dwellings which are awaiting occupation by ministers of religion, from where they will perform their duties;
  • dwellings which have been taken into possession by a mortgage lender.

Will I get a bill for an exempt dwelling?

If you own one of these types of dwelling you may not receive a council tax bill for it, but the council will send you information to let you know which valuation band the property has been placed in and what the council tax would be if it were not exempt.

If the council writes to tell you that it believes your property is exempt, but you realise that it should not be, you must write and tell the council or you may face a penalty.

What can I do if the council says my property is not exempt?

If the council decides your dwelling is not exempt and you disagree, you should write to the council saying why you think your property should be exempt. The council has two months to provide an answer. If you still disagree with the council, or if it has not acted within the two month period, you can appeal to a Valuation Tribunal. You should continue to pay your original bill while your appeal is outstanding.