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Council tax reductions

Information about council tax discounts, eligibility criteria, disregarded persons, and reductions and premiums for empty properties.

Premium for long-term empty properties

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

Councils were first given powers by central government in 2013 to charge extra council tax on properties that had been empty for more than two years. Central Government granted additional powers to increase this premium further, effective from 1 April 2019.

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 allows local authorities to charge the empty homes premium after a property has been empty for one year instead of two. 

At a meeting held on 28 February 2023, the council made the decision to introduce the premium charges after a property had been empty for one year, with effect from 1 April 2024.

Council tax empty property charges by period in the Lancaster district from 1 April 2024 onwards
  1st month 2 – 12 months 12 months + 5 years + 10 years +
1 April 2024 0% 100% 200% 300% 400%

Between April 2019 and April 2024 the 100% Council Tax premium was only chargeable on a property empty for more than two years.

Press Notice:  Variation of council tax charges (PDF)

Why has this been done?

Both central government and the council are keen to ensure that long-term empty properties are brought back into use.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. Empty annexes and properties left empty by service personnel are excluded by legislation. The council cannot charge a premium on these or include them in any policy.

From 1 April 2019, an exceptions policy was agreed for certain circumstances. This policy has been updated to reflect the changes from 1 April 2024:

Can I make a formal complaint if I am charged a premium?

As the charge is council policy allowed under regulations, it cannot be accepted as grounds for a complaint under our complaints policy.

You can, however, submit an application for exception if you feel your circumstances fit the criteria.

Can I submit an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal against the premium?

The Valuation Tribunal determined in April 2014 that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear appeals regarding premiums.

They are excluded by virtue of Section 66 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The only option available to challenge is to apply for judicial review in the High Court.

Last updated: 19 March 2024

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