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What are the changes to council tax exemptions and discounts?

Changes to the law from 1 April 2013

The government made the following changes to council tax discounts and exemptions:

  1. Exemption class C (properties that are empty and unfurnished for up to 6 months) was abolished and each council could decide whether to award a local discount in its place
  2. Councils could decide to charge an additional premium of up to 50 per cent on homes that have been empty and unfurnished for 2 years or more
  3. Exemption class A (properties requiring or undergoing major repairs for up to 12 months) was abolished and each council could decide whether to award a local discount in its place
  4. The minimum discount that councils can give for furnished homes that are no-one's 'sole or main residence' - i.e. 2nd homes and unoccupied furnished lets - was reduced from 10 per cent to 0 per cent

Southwark Council applied the following council tax rules from 1 April 2013:  

  1. Properties which have been empty and unfurnished for less than 2 months can receive a discount of 100 per cent. After this period the full charge will be payable.
  2. Any property which has been empty for a period greater than two years will be charged a premium of 50 per cent, so a bill for 150 per cent of the usual charge will be payable
  3. Properties which would previously have been entitled to a Class A exemption (undergoing major repairs or structural alterations), will now be charged 100 per cent council tax unless they are eligible for the empty property discount - see 1. above.
  4. Properties which are unoccupied but furnished and properties that are no-one's 'sole or main residence' - i.e. 2nd homes and unoccupied furnished lets - will now be charged 100 per cent council tax .

All other exemption and discount types - e.g. single occupier discount - are not affected by these changes.

View the formal notice of Southwark Council's resolution to charge a 50 per cent premium on empty homes that have been empty for 2 years or more.  

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