Empty and Unfurnished Property

Where a property is both unoccupied and unfurnished exemption from Council Tax may be awarded for a period of up to 6 months.

The 6 months exemption period will be from the first day the property becomes both unoccupied and unfurnished, provided that the last period of occupation lasted for at least 3 months.

To be considered unfurnished, a property must be devoid of all moveable items. Although white goods (built-in or free standing), carpets, curtains and window blinds are not considered to be items of furniture, any other moveable item is.

Wherever possible appropriate evidence should be supplied with your application to substantiate it, for example, photographs, copy of sale schedule (if appropriate), removal receipts etc.

Aberdeenshire Council operates a policy of selecting properties, on a random basis, for inspection. If a property is selected for an inspection, this may be an announced inspection (where access to the property will be required) or unannounced, where an external inspection only will be carried out.

Aberdeenshire Council reserves the right to take whatever steps it considers necessary to ensure your application is valid. Where the validity of an application is in doubt, no reduction will be awarded.

To apply for empty property exemption and/or discount, please complete and return the form below:

Alternatively, contact your Council Tax Team on 03456 08 12 01 who will help with your enquiry.

EMPTY PROPERTIES - SUMMARY

The table below shows how we will work out the Council Tax charge from 1 April 2015 for all types of unoccupied property.

Type of PropertyPosition from 1 April 2015
Unoccupied and unfurnished No charge for up to six months from the date the property was last occupied*
  10% discount after six months for up to 12 months
  No discount after 12 months up to 24 months
  From month 25 onwards, a Council Tax increase will be applied - i.e. 200% charge
Unoccupied and unfurnished (property on market for sale/let) No charge for six months from the date the property was last occupied*
  10% discount after six months for up to 24 months
  No discount after 24 months up to 36 months
  From month 37 onwards, a Council Tax increase will be applied - i.e. 200% charge
Unoccupied but furnished property (property on market for sale/let) 10% discount for 24 months from the date the property becomes unoccupied**
  No discount after 24 months up to 36 months
  From month 37 onwards, a Council Tax increase will be applied - i.e. 200% charge
Unoccupied and unfurnished (new build property) No charge for up to six months from the date the property was first entered on the Council Tax Valuation List
  10% discount after six months for up to 12 months from the date the property was first entered on the Council Tax Valuation List
  No discount after 12 months up to 24 months
  From month 25 onwards, a Council Tax increase will be applied - i.e. 200% charge
Unoccupied and undergoing (or has undergone) major repair works or structural alteration No charge for up to 12 months from the date the property was last occupied
  No discount after 12 months up to 24 months
  From month 25 onwards, a Council Tax increase will be applied - i.e. 200% charge
Following a property sale - unoccupied and undergoing (or requiring) major repair or structural alteration 50% discount for six months from the date the property was purchased
  10% discount after 6 months for up to 12 months
  No discount after 12 months up to 24 months
  From 25 months onwards, a Council Tax increase will be applied - i.e. 200% charge
Unoccupied but furnished property 10% discount for 12 months from the date the property becomes unoccupied**
  No discount after 12 months up to 24 months
  From months 25 onwards, a Council Tax increase will be applied - i.e. 200% charge
Unoccupied but furnished property (2nd home***) 10% discount as long as the property is occupied (on average) for more than 25 days per year

Information contained on this website is for guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative statement fo law.

*The property must have been occupied continuously for at least three months before a full six month exemption can be considered. This exemption will only start from the date the furniture is removed, if this date is later than the last occupation date. As it is a property based reduction the rules continue to apply during periods in which the property ownership and/or the Council tax payer may have changed.

**The property must have been occupied continuously for a period of at least three months before a full 12 or 24 months discount can be considered, unless the property is considered a second home.

*** A second home is defined as a dwelling which is no one's sole/main residence but which is furnished and which, during any period of 12 months, the person who is liable to pay Council tax can produce evidence that it is lived in, other than as a sole or main residence, for at least 25 days during the period.

Note:- the above noted empty property exemptions and unoccupied discounts are all property based and therefore the rules continue to apply during periods in which the property ownership and/or the Council Tax payer may have changed.

 

Council Tax Increase - Frequently Asked Questions;

 

Why is the Council increasing the amount of Council Tax to be paid on empty properties?

As a result of The Scottish Governments commitment to reduce the number of empty properties in Scotland they enacted The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013.

These regulations provide Councils with the discretionary power to vary the rate of discount allowed in respect of empty properties (between 0% and 50%) and/or also impose an increase (of up to 100%) in the level of Council Tax charged on certain empty properties after a certain time of period.

As a result of this legislation, from 1 April 2015, a Council Tax Increase will be imposed on all properties which have been empty for at least 2 years. This means a 200% charge being levied annually.

Does this just apply to Aberdeenshire?

No. All Scottish Councils now have the discretionary powers as outlined above. It is for each Council to decide, within the terms of legislation, what discount (if any) to grant to unoccupied properties and what additional charges (if any) to levy on long-term empty properties. This means that there will be different policies and charges across Scotland.

Note: while from 1 April 2014 Aberdeenshire reduced the level of discount(s) it awarded in respect of unoccupied properties, unlike many other Council's in Scotland, it delayed the imposition of a Council Tax Increase for a further year. This was to allow the owners of empty properties a reasonable period of time to consider what to do, if anything, with their empty property(s).

Why do I have to pay Council Tax on an unoccupied property?

Since the introduction of Council Tax on 1 April 1993 all empty properties have been subject to a Council Tax charge. The only exception is where a property fulfils the relevant qualifying criteria to allow a statutory exemption to be awarded.

What is a statutory exemption?

There are a number of reasons why properties can be exempt from Council Tax. Each legislative 'class' of exemption has its own set of qualifying criteria which must be fully met to allow exemption to be awarded.

My property is in a very poor state of repair, does the Council provide any financial assistance to people like me to carry out renovations to my property?

Aberdeenshire Councils Housing Department, in partnership with Grampian Housing Association, administer an Empty Homes Loan Scheme, which subject to certain criteria being met, can provide the owners of empty properties which are in poor condition a loan of up to £30,000 to bring them back into use as affordable housing. To find out more about this scheme, visit our website.

What if I am finding it difficult to sell or let my property?

Within the 2013 regulations the Scottish Government recognised that in certain situations ratepayers may already be taking steps to bring an empty property back into use, either by selling or renting it, and therefore built into the legislation an additional 12-month period whereby the Council Tax Increase cannot be imposed.

In effect, within Aberdeenshire, an empty property will not be subject to a Council Tax Increase for at least 24 months and this will increase to 36 months where a property is being actively marketed for sale or let.

If you are having difficulty in selling or letting your property and are going to have difficulty in paying the Council Tax charges on your empty property you should contact a member of the Council Tax Team.

I am going to find it impossible to pay the Council Tax Increase? What will happen if I can't pay?

If you are having difficulty in paying any Council Tax bill then contact a member of the Council Tax team as we may be able to help you. Don't delay, Act now!

 

 

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