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No council tax on empty buy to lets, demands landlord group

Private landlords want the government to stop local authorities charging council tax on rented homes left empty because of the Coronavirus. 

The National Residential Landlords Association says a significant number of rented homes have been left empty because tenants have been unable to take up tenancies, or have chosen to move out to be closer to family during the lockdown. 

During this period landlords will become liable for the council tax on the property and have no realistic prospect of finding new tenants. 


The association now wants Westminster to tell councils these properties should be exempt from the tax. 

A recent survey by the NRLA found that 41 per cent of landlords are concerned about having to cover the unexpected costs of utility bills and council tax.  



Now Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive, says: “It is manifestly unfair for landlords to be asked to pay council tax on properties which are empty, and likely to remain so, because of the impact of the pandemic. Whilst we remain supportive of the measures taken so far by the government, landlords are being asked to absorb more costs at a time when they are least able.  

“Unlike most small businesses and the self-employed, there has been no direct support package announced for landlords. Removing this unnecessary burden would at least help those landlords who are struggling to cope with drastically reduced income.” 

  • icon

    Finally. Been saying this virtually from day 1 as it was clear we wouldn’t be able to let empties at this time.

  • dale james

    Well I have been speaking with my colleagues about this and surely the Council Tax Exemption 'G' already in place is a possibility? It states that when a law is passed which makes it impossible to tenant a property! Worth a try?

    S l
    • S l
    • 01 May 2020 01:07 AM

    Not charging landlord 150% on empty property on the basis of encouraging landlord to make use of it is absurd and ridiculous to start with in the first place without the pandemic. It is about time something is done about it.

  • SCN Lettings

    There is facililty for councils to exempt as follows:

    The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 1992 - Statutory Instrument 558/1992 came into
    force from 31st March 1992. Paragraph 3 states:
    “A dwelling is an exempt dwelling for the purposes of section 4 of the Act ( The Local Government Act 1992) on a particular day if on that day it falls within one of the following classes–

    “Class G: an unoccupied dwelling the occupation of which is prohibited by law, or which is kept unoccupied by reason of action taken under powers conferred by or under any Act of Parliament, with a view to prohibiting its occupation or to acquiring it”

    Councils tend to focus on the fact the Coronavirus Act 2020 does not prohibit occupation. However the "or" is crucial. This means that any Act does not have to prohibit occupation per se- merely that it triggers the clause "has a view to doing so" This is a deliberately broad definition.

    The Coronavirus Act certainly " has a view" to prohibiting occupation. That is it's purpose in stopping the spread of the disease. What the councils have done is looked at the first part of the Class " G" definition without also looking at the other two which are less precise.

    We are taking the matter to Valuation Trubunal.


    Please can I ask if you or anyone has managed to take this matter to tribunal?

    I note the VT president has only recently categorised the various Class G exemption cases and is hearing these cases due to national implications. Many cases I think are stayed.

    My case (which relates to home moves) was heard two weeks ago. These are complex cases involving novel and important points of law.

  • Barry X

    It shouldn't just be during the coronavirus crisis - IT SHOULD BE ALWAYS AT ALL TIMES.

    When c/tax was introduced in 1992 it was only supposed to be for local residents to pay for local services provided to them by their local council. It was only in recent years that the cash-strapped councils - partly because they waste so much money on useless things - desperate to collect more money (probably also to largely waste) started targeting landlords. The promised "forever free for empty properties" was reduced first to just one year. Then six months, then a piffling two weeks (what a joke) and now we must pay for services neither we nor our properties are using from the dy our tenants move out.

    And as I've reported here before, for several years now there's been the newer scam stealthily introduced by these greedy landlord-fleecing councils; a "Surcharge" to "encourage us to bring properties back into use" (more lies, dishonesty and spin from them).... so you pay full tax on an empty property the day it becomes vacant - even though there would be a 25% discount if one person was still living there consuming local services but with nobody there you pay 100%.

    THEN, if for some reason (probably a very good one as we all want rent) the property is still empty after 1 year you now must pay 100% + 50% more, i.e. 150% of the tax! And as soon as they can they want to start charging the "surcharge" after 6 months, then probably 2 weeks or something, then from the day the property becomes vacant - "encouraging us to bring it back into use" even though we're advertising like mad and doing our best to achieve that anyhow!

    And WHEN they've achieved this stealthy plan over the next few years they'll change the names to the "empty property rate" (from day one) then bring in a new "surcharge" of 200% for properties still empty for whatever reason (being rebuilt, legal reasons, executor sales whatever).

    This should have been heavily challenged and sopped YEARS AGO. Probably one of the main reasons it wasn't were that too many people depend on professional bodies like the former NLA now re-branded as the equally feeble RNLA to advise, lobby and organise us into large scale group actions if necessary - which given how we're treated and what's been going on for years with the writing clearly on the wall, I believe such actin IS necessary. Despite their amalgamation and re-branding they are still useless and show no real sign of caring for anything much except collecting fees and selling things like 'training' and if possible tie-pins and branded mugs.

    They (organisations like the RNLA) should be concentrating first and foremost on representing us and FIGHTING to regain our steadily diminishing rights, reverse (or at least amend) pointless ill-considered and damaging legislation, and ever FIGHTING against all the increasing burdens of tax (local and central and often by stealth), and all these scam "licencing" schemes and all the rest - but they are NOT.

    We can and SHOULD have a much bigger, stronger voice and heavier stick than jokers like the lobbying-group (and ex-charity for the homeless) Shelter that seem to always get the government's full attention and - disgracefully - even financial support for coming up with more and more hair-brained politically motivated whims to further harm our businesses and drive private landlords out of the market.


    I could not agree more. How can Councils demand money from the government then
    issue demands to landlords for council tax, landlords who are unable to obtain new tenants due to the Coronavirus Act 2020.
    We should issue legal cases against the councils which will clog up the legal system even further. Perhaps the more sensible councils will make a judgement call and grant an exemption rather than become caught up in long term legal cases

  • dale james

    I agree with SCN and some associates of mine are claiming that the Coronavirus Act made it impossible to let.

  • icon

    Looks like the NRLA may be standing up for landlords at last.

    Barry X

    Not enough and VERY weak indeed... please read my detailed post on this.

    The NRLA **should** be asking for a complete and permanent end to ever charging c/tax on empty properties, not just temporarily.

    And to further show how weak and useless they are to us (but there are SO MANY examples).... after the Government kindly told our tenants they don't need to pay rent for now - and as a result many don't, even if still on full or 8-% pay.... what did the NRLA say or do about that, and the fact that to "protect" us the government said our lenders should offer us useless mortgage payment holidays but can still collect the SECURED money later and charge more interest too...? Of course the NRLA did little or nothing and certainly hasn't achieved or gained any useful support or concessions for us. They are a bunch of feeble woosies.

    Theodor Cable

    Won't ever happen

  • icon

    Being a 'responsible' landlord I have spent a lot of time and money trying to sort out a persistent damp problem. The property is good to go from May but obviously I can't let it. I'm being penalised with a 200% long term empty premium. Surely this should be cancelled or at least dropped to basic rate whilst lockdown continues.


    From what I understood the premium long-term empty charge was LA discretionary and should not be applied if LL is working either with or towards a ‘positive’ outcome (as opposed to just abandoning and ignoring.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Have you seen the Free Advice offer on our web site ?

    S l
    • S l
    • 06 May 2020 22:07 PM

    Hi Luke, it looks good on paper with your arguments. But majority of council now see the lucrative income and would charge 150-200 percent for empty property even though it is being renovated. No relief there for us landlord, i am afraid.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Its right and High-time the NRLA asked the Govt for something on behalf of the people ( landlords ) they are supposed to represent.
    But before getting too carried away with them coming 'out of the woodwork' NRLA qualify they're mealy - mouthed request to Govt by repeating they " remain supportive of Govt measures taken so far " ! ( I take that to mean the Total ban on justified, legal eviction and absolutely No financial support packages for landlords ! )

  • Barry X

    You're quite right and well said!

  • icon
    • Paul
    • 20 November 2020 19:01 PM

    Have there been any developments since April on the council tax issue for landlords?

  • icon

    I understand the tribunal has received a number of similar appeals which have been stayed. The tribunal has categorised the Class G related Covid 19 restrictions appeals into three categories as follows;

    Category One
    This relates to appeals where the dwelling was not the appellant’s main residence, but they were unable to occupy it during the period when the restrictions were in force.

    Category Two
    This relates to appeals where the dwelling was not the appellant’s main residence and was situated on a holiday site which was closed.

    Category Three
    This relates to unoccupied dwellings which the appellant landlord has been unable to re-let whilst coronavirus restrictions were in place.


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