What sort of dwellings are exempt?

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.

The following 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.

The following dwellings are exempt for a limited period:

  • dwellings owned by a body established for charitable purposes only, which is unoccupied and has been so for a period of less than 6 months and was last occupied in furtherance of the objects of the charity;
  • dwellings which have been unoccupied and (except in the case of dwellings owned and last occupied by a charity) unfurnished, for up to six months, commonly referred to as exempt class C dwellings; see note below. 
  • new dwellings, and some dwellings which have recently been the subject of major works or structural alteration, for up to six months after completion of the work or twelve months since becoming exempt through the major works or structural alteration, so long as they remain unoccupied and unfurnished, commonly referred to as exempt class A dwellings; see note below.
  • unoccupied dwellings which form part of the estate of a person who has died, for up to six months after the grant of probate or letters of administration.

Note: From 1 April 2013 class A and class C council tax exemptions as outlined above have been abolished and replaced with a discount (0%-100%). Therefore from 1 April 2013 accounts in receipt of a class A or class C council tax exemption are now immediately liable to a council tax charge (0%-100%).

The following dwellings are exempt while they remain unoccupied:

  • dwellings where the owner is a student who last lived in the dwelling as their main home;
  • dwellings 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;
  • dwellings 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;
  • dwellings 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;
  • annexes which cannot be let separately from the main dwelling without breaching planning conditions;
  • dwellings where the liable person is a trustee in bankruptcy;
  • repossessed dwellings;
  • 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. 

To assist all 23 classes of exemption are listed below along with brief descriptions. For each of the classes indicated a number of conditions may need to be met before an exemption can be applied. Unoccupied or occupied properties may qualify for an exemption if it meets the criteria for one of the following 23 classes (class A to class W), for specified periods: 

Unoccupied properties - exemption class descriptions

  • A - (ABOLISHED 1 APRIL 2013)
    An unoccupied and substantially unfurnished dwelling that: 
    (i) requires or is undergoing, or has undergone, major repair works in order to make it habitable; 
    (ii) is undergoing, or has undergone, structural alteration;
    for up to a maximum period of 12 months from the day of vacation. Major repair works include structural repair works.
  • B - Unoccupied properties owned and last used by a charity (exempt for a maximum of six months).
  • C - (ABOLISHED 1 APRIL 2013)
    Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties (exempt for a maximum of six months from the date of vacation). 
  • D - Properties left unoccupied by people detained in prison (except for payment of council tax or a fine) or other place determined by order of a court.
  • E - Properties left unoccupied by long stay hospital patients and also by people who move permanently into a hospital, nursing home or residential home where they receive care and/or treatment.
  • F - Properties left unoccupied following the death of a sole owner or tenant where a grant of probate/letters of administration has not yet been obtained (applies for a maximum period of up to six months from when such a grant has been obtained).
  • G - Properties where occupation is prohibited by law.
  • H - Properties held vacant for future occupation by a minister of religion.
  • I - Properties left unoccupied because a person, who would otherwise be liable, has gone to live somewhere else in order to receive personal care.
  • J - Properties left unoccupied because a person, who would otherwise be liable, has gone to live somewhere else in order to provide personal care for someone.  The liable person must have been away for this reason since they left the property.
  • K - Properties left unoccupied by a student who left in order to study elsewhere, and the vacant property was their sole or main residence.
  • L - Unoccupied properties that have been repossessed be a mortgage provider.
  • Q - Unoccupied properties in the possession of a trustee in bankruptcy.
  • R - A property consisting of a pitch or a mooring which is not occupied by a caravan or a boat.
  • T - Properties forming part of another dwelling, such as granny flats or annexes, which cannot be separately let. This exemption applies if the annexe is unoccupied but is part of another dwelling, e.g. a granny Annex, and under planning regulations it cannot be let separately from the other dwelling.

Occupied properties - class description

  • M - Student halls of residence.
  • N - Properties occupied wholly by students.
  • O - Armed forces accommodation owned by the Ministry of Defense.
  • P - Visiting forces accommodation.
  • S - Properties occupied only by a person or persons aged under 18.
  • U - Properties occupied only by a person/persons who is/are severely mentally impaired.
  • V - Properties occupied by diplomats, persons who have diplomatic immunity and certain members of their household.
  • W - An annexe or similar self-contained part of a property which is occupied by an elderly, disabled or severely mentally impaired relative of the resident(s) living in the remaining part of the property. This exemption applies to dwellings which are occupied but are annexes to another dwelling and where the occupier of the annexe is a dependent relative of the person who is resident in the other dwelling. A dependent relative must be over 65, or severely mentally impaired or substantially and permanently physically disabled.

Will I get a bill for an exempt dwelling?

If you own one of these types of dwelling you should not receive a council tax bill for it, but the council will send you an exemption notice. The exemption notice will 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. Alternatively please telephone the council on 01773 841440 or by email at the email address below.

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. See our how to appeal page.

You should continue to pay your original bill while you appeal is outstanding

Change in circumstances

If there is a change in circumstances, you must inform us immediately. For example, if you move address or you are no longer entitled to a discount or exemption.

If you wish to report a change in circumstances, please telephone us on 01773 841440. Alternatively, you may send an email to council.tax@ambervalley.gov.uk confirming the date of the move, details regarding the owners of the properties, or information about the tenancy (i.e. Landlord's name and address).

If the council has given you a discount but you are not entitled to one, or are no longer entitled to one, you must inform us or you may face a penalty.

Need further help or information?

Contact the team directly on 01773 841440 or email council.tax@ambervalley.gov.uk