Council tax exemptions
- A property may be exempt in certain circumstances even if occupied.
If you feel your property meets any of the following criteria then please contact the council tax office for details of how to apply, or fill in a form if applicable.
Unoccupied properties owned by a body established for charitable purposes are exempt for up to 6 months from the date that the last resident vacated, provided that the property was being used for the purposes of the charity up to the date the last occupier moved out. After six months the full council tax charge is due.
The exemption applies whether or not the property contains furniture.
Class D Unoccupied property where the former owner or occupier is resident in prison or detained under the Mental Health Act
If the dwelling is left empty providing it was previously the sole or main residence of the owner or former occupier (providing they continue to hold the legal right to the property) it will usually be exempt. An exemption will apply if the former occupier is:
- Detained in prison or hospital by order of a court
- Detained under the deportation provisions of immigration Act 1971
- Detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
- Imprisoned, detained or in custody for more than 48 hours under the Army Act 1955, the Air force Act 1955 or the Naval Discipline Act 1957.
A person who is in police custody before his/her first court appearance or someone who is detained for non-payment of council tax or a fine will not qualify for an exemption.
This exemption applies to unoccupied properties where the owner or tenant of a property has their sole or main residence (their home) in a residential care home, nursing home, hospital or hostel in which they are receiving care or treatment.
The property must have previously been the main residence of the person who is now living in residential care, a nursing home, or hospital, and they must have been living there since they moved out of the dwelling.
The dwelling can be exempt regardless of whether it is furnished or unfurnished, and will qualify for the exemption as long as the person whose name appears on the bill resides permanently in residential care.
A property where the owner or tenancy holder has passed away can be exempt from council tax providing the property remains unoccupied and the estate is awaiting probate or letters of administration to be granted. If the property becomes occupied, sold, passed to a beneficiary or six months has elapsed after probate the exemption ends.
It is important that the executor(s) keep the council tax office informed of:
- the date probate is granted,
- details of the transfer or sale of the property or the end date of the tenancy,
- when the estate is settled.
During this time the council may contact the executors periodically to review entitlement to the exemption.
An empty and unfurnished property is exempt from council tax if its occupation is:
- Restricted by a planning condition that prevents occupancy (under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990);
- Prohibited by law;
- If it is kept unoccupied by reason of action taken to prohibit occupation, or with a view to acquiring it, under powers conferred by any Act of Parliament.
Unoccupied dwellings, which are being held available for a minister of religion, as a residence from which he or she will perform the duties of their office, are exempt from council tax.
The exemption applies to a property being held for a minister of any religious denomination.
A property is exempt from council tax if it is unoccupied because the person whose name appears on the council tax bill had to leave the property permanently to live elsewhere to receive care.
The person being cared for must require care for one of the following reasons:
- Old age
- Past or present alcohol or drug dependence
- Past or present mental disorder.
The person who has vacated must have left the property to receive care elsewhere, and cannot have moved anywhere else in between leaving the property and moving to receive that care.
A property is exempt from council tax if it is unoccupied because the person whose name appears on the council tax bill had to leave the property permanently to live elsewhere to provide care for someone.
The person being cared for must require care for one of the following reasons:
- Old age
- Past or present alcohol or drug dependence
- Past or present mental disorder
The person who has vacated must have left the property to care for that person, (i.e. cannot have moved anywhere else in between leaving the property and moving to care for that person).
Where a student is the owner of an unoccupied dwelling, the property is exempt provided that when it was last occupied, it was the sole or main residence (i.e. the home) of that student, and that no one else, other than students, lived there.
The exemption applies whether the person was already a student when they left the dwelling or if they became a student after changing their main residence. He or she must have become a student within 6 weeks of leaving the property for the exemption to apply and the exemption only continues as long as the person remains a student.
This exemption applies only in respect students who are on full time and qualifying courses of education and foreign language assistants.
If there is default on repaying the loan, the mortgage deed usually enables the mortgagee* to take possession of the property and the property may be sold to repay the outstanding loan.
If a property is unoccupied and the mortgagee takes possession under the mortgage, it is exempt from council tax.
If the property is still occupied when the mortgagee takes possession, the exemption does not commence until the occupants vacate the dwelling.
The exemption continues until either possession is relinquished or the property is sold.
Halls of residence for students are exempt from council tax as long as the accommodation is owned or managed by an educational establishment (such as a College or University), or where an educational establishment nominates the majority of the student residents.
The accommodation must be provided predominantly for students, which does not prevent part of the accommodation being used permanently, or temporarily, for staff or other people.
Properties that are occupied by full time students only are exempt from council tax. The exemption ends when one of the occupiers ceases to be a qualifying person.
Who is classed as a student?
There are three main categories of students for council tax purposes:
- You are a student if you are undertaking a full-time course at a prescribed educational establishment
- Under 20 years old in part time or full time education; or
- Foreign language assistant - registered with the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and working at a school or other educational establishment.
A full-time course is one that:
- lasts for at least one academic year or, if the establishment does not have academic years, for at least one calendar year; and
- persons undertaking such a course are normally required by the educational establishment concerned to attend (whether at premises of the establishment or otherwise) for periods of at least 24 weeks in each academic or calendar year (as the case may be) during which it subsists, and
- requires an average of at least 21 hours a week of study, tuition, work experience or a combination of these.
How do I prove I am a student?
If you are studying at Chichester College/Chichester University you do not need to provide a student certificate. For all other colleges or universities please provide a copy of your student certificate (obtained from your educational establishment).
Living accommodation for UK armed forces which is owned by the Secretary of State for Defence is exempt whether it is occupied or not.
This includes barracks and other accommodation on military bases, together with married quarters, as long as this accommodation is held for the purposes of forces accommodation.
Contributions in lieu of council tax are payable to billing authorities by the Ministry of Defence.
A dwelling is exempt if any one of the persons who would be liable to pay the council tax has a "relevant association" with a visiting force from a country to which the Visiting Forces Act 1952 applies.
A person has a relevant association with a visiting force if he or she is:
- A member of that force, or a member of a civilian component of the force; or
- A dependant of a member, provided that the dependant is not a British citizen or is not ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom
A dwelling owned or rented by a person with a relevant association is exempt even though other people may live in the dwelling who do not have such an association.
The exemption does not apply if the person associated with the visiting force would not be a liable person.
Where the person who would be liable for the council tax in respect of an unoccupied dwelling is a trustee in bankruptcy, the dwelling is exempt from council tax.
The exemption applies whether the unoccupied dwelling is furnished or not, and avoids charges being incurred by the trustee which cannot be met from the estate of the bankrupt individual.
The exemption applies whether or not the trustee is jointly liable with any other person.
A caravan pitch or a boat mooring is classed as a dwelling for council tax if it is currently being used as a person's sole or main residence, or its next use is likely to be that of a domestic residence.
A pitch, which is not occupied by a caravan, or a mooring, which is not occupied by a boat, is exempt for the whole of any period during which this situation exists.
The exemption ceases as soon as a caravan or boat is moved to the pitch or mooring, and a person living in the caravan or boat would pay council tax if that caravan or boat is their sole or main residence (i.e. their home).
A property that is only occupied by a person who is or by persons who are, under 18 years of age is exempt from council tax.
We will ask you to provide proof of the date of birth for the occupiers (such as a birth certificate, passport or benefit entitlement letters).
If you are under 18 years old, you cannot have your name on a council tax bill, so usually the person who is sent the bill will normally be the landlord or the owner of the property.
This exemption may be granted where an annexe is empty and cannot be let separately without a breach of planning control under section 171A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
An 'annexe' for the purpose of Class T is defined as a dwelling which forms part of a single property which includes another dwelling.
This exemption can be granted regardless of whether the property is furnished or not, and continues as long as nobody is living in the annexe.
A dwelling exempt under this class remains exempt even if the other dwelling becomes unoccupied.
If a dwelling is only occupied by people who are classed as "severely mentally impaired" it is exempt from council tax. This is only the case if the person whose name appears on the bill lives in the dwelling and is also classed "severely mentally impaired"
How do I qualify?
Firstly you must be in receipt of one of the state benefits listed below:
- An Incapacity Benefit under Section 30A of the Social Security (Contributions and Benefits) Act 1992.
- An Attendance Allowance under Section 64 of the Act.
- A Severe Disablement Allowance under Section 68 of the Act.
- The Care Component of a Disability Living Allowance under Section 71 of that Act, which should be payable at the middle or highest rate.
- An increase in the rate of his/her Disablement Pension under Section 104 of the Act, where constant attendance is needed.
- A disability Working Allowance under Section 129 of the Act, for which the qualifying benefit is one that falls within subsection (2) (a) (i) or (ii) of that section; or it is a corresponding Northern Ireland benefit.
- An Unemployability Supplement under Part I Schedule 7 to that Act.
- A Constant Attendance under:
-Article 14 of the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme 1983; or
-Article 14 of the Naval, Military and Air Forces etc. (Disablement and Death) Service Pensions Order 1983.
- An Unemployability Allowance under:
-Article 18(1) of the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme 1983; or
-Article 18 (1) of the Naval, Military and Air Forces etc. (Disablement and Death) Service Pensions Order 1983.
- Income Support where the applicable amount includes a disability premium in respect of which the additional condition in paragraph 12(1) (b) of Schedule 2 to the Income support (General) Regulations 1987 is satisfied.
- Incapacity Benefit under SS40 and 41 of the SSBC Act 1992
- The standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment under section 78(3) of the Welfare Reform Act 2012
- Employment Support Allowance (Income Related or Contributory)
Secondly, a qualified medical practitioner (usually your doctor) must confirm to the council that in their medical opinion you are "severely mentally impaired".
What is the definition of "severely mentally impaired"?
"Severely mentally impaired" means a person who has severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning (however caused), which appears to be permanent.
The exemption does not apply where council tax liability falls on a non-resident owner (for example a residential home where all occupiers are disregarded is not exempt as the owner is liable for the council tax).
A dwelling is exempt from council tax under this class if at least one person, whose name appears on the council tax bill, satisfies any of the following conditions:
- a person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred by the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964
- a person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred under the Commonwealth Secretarial Act 1966
- a person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred by the Consular Relations Act 1968
- a class of person mentioned in relation to any organisation specified in an Order in Council made under the International Organisations Act 1968
- a person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred by the Commonwealth Countries and Republic of Ireland (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1985
- the head of any office established under the Hong Kong Economic Trade Act 1966
As long as:
- The person is not a British citizen or British subject or a permanent resident of the United Kingdom and
- There is no other dwelling in the UK, which is the main residence of that person
This does not apply if there is another resident with a higher legal interest in the property.
An 'annexe' is defined in council tax regulations as a dwelling which forms part of a single property which includes another dwelling and which may not be let separately from that other dwelling without a breach of planning controls.
Occupied annexes are exempt if occupied as the home of a dependant relative of a person living in the main dwelling.
A relative is to be regarded as dependent if: -
- Aged 65 years or more;
- Under 65 but severely mentally impaired;
- Under 65 but substantially and permanently disabled.
The following are 'relatives' for the purpose of the exemption: -
- Parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, great-grandparent, great-grandchild, great-uncle, great-aunt, great-nephew or great-niece
If you believe your property should be exempt, details of how to appeal can found on our council tax information and support page .