The Local Government Act 2003 received Royal Assent on the 18 September 2003. It allowed local billing authorities discretion to charge additional amounts on unoccupied properties. This discretion can be applied for second homes and long-term empty homes from 1 April 2004.
From 1 April 2009 Amber Valley Borough Council has exercised its discretion to vary the discount applicable to properties that are not occupied as anyone's main residence and that are not exempt from council tax.
If the unoccupied property is furnished (known as a "second home" for council tax purposes), then the council tax bill will be reduced by 10% (the only exception to this is where the property occupied elsewhere by the council tax payer is required for job related purposes, i.e. the property is provided by the occupier's employer as a condition of employment, in which case the council tax bill on the unoccupied property will continue to be reduced by 50%).
If the unoccupied property is substantially unfurnished (known as a "long-term empty property" for council tax purposes) then no discount will be allowed after any exempt period has expired.
On 1 April 2013 the regulations changed again meaning that the 10% reduction may also be removed and from 1 April 2013 no discount will be allowed on second homes.
Until 31 March 2013 dwellings which have been unoccupied and (except in the case of dwellings owned and last occupied by a charity) unfurnished are exempt for up to six months, commonly referred to as exempt class C dwellings.
New dwellings, and some dwellings which have recently been the subject of major works or structural alteration, were exempt 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.
From 1 April 2013 class A and class C council tax exemptions 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 will become immediately liable to a council tax charge (0%-100%).
If you have a property that is unoccupied and unfurnished, the property has a 50% charge for the first 6 calendar months. After this, the charge to pay goes up to the full amount. This discount always starts from the day the property first becomes unoccupied and unfurnished. If you buy or rent a property that is already unoccupied, this discount does not start again when you acquire it, as it applies to the property and not the individual.
The empty property must be occupied for at least six weeks before a further discount can be applied.
If you have a property that is a second home, or furnished but not occupied as any person’s main home, you will be charged 100% with immediate effect.
These changes were part of the government’s localism agenda, and are in support of the council’s empty homes strategy to help encourage the quick letting or reoccupation of properties in Amber Valley.
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