A briefing paper explaining how council tax is applied to empty properties in England, Scotland and Wales, including the 'empty homes premium'.

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Local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales have considerable discretion over the levels of council tax discount available on unoccupied properties. They may require full council tax payment from the owners of empty second homes, properties undergoing major repair, or properties that are ‘unoccupied and substantially unfurnished’.

There are a small number of mandatory exemptions to this power, and occupants of properties benefiting from these exemptions receive a 50% discount.

Local authorities may also set an ‘empty homes premium’ for properties that have been empty for over a specified period. The terms on which the premium is set vary between England, Scotland and Wales. The premium applies depending on how long the property has been empty, irrespective of the owner.

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