Voids (time in between tenant vacating and new tenant moving in) are a massive bugbear for me and I feel it is one of the most overlooked expenses you as a Landlord would incur. I did a post on Voids as a whole and ways to reduce costly void periods earlier this year, article can be found on the link below: https://blackpoolpropertyblog.com/2020/05/16/7-days-of-landlord-tips-1-voids/
In this article I wanted to cover of Council Tax exemptions during void periods. One area I see Landlords fail is notifying the council of your new tenant moving in and vacating, with exact dates and names. I would always recommend to do this via email so there is a record. if this doesnt get done it can lead to issues with future payments of council tax and incorrect invoicing being issued from the Local Authority due to no or incorrect information from the on-set. If you are using a Managing Agency they would do this for you in between tenancies, along with notifying the utility providers.
I have summarised the discount from each council, please note this is if the property is unfurnished (white goods are allowed). The council tax exemption period can be applied in between each change in occupation, subject to the occupation being for a minimum of 6 months. Most people have a perception that a council tax exemption can only be claimed once during the financial year, which isn’t the case.
Unoccupied Exemption Period
Blackpool Council - 3 months
Wyre Council - 1 month (followed by 5 months with a 50% discount)
Fylde Council - 6 months
Lancaster Council -1 month
Councils have now also introduced an additional premium charge if the property has been empty for more than 2 years, with most councils electing to charge 100% extra in council tax.
If you are going to be doing major work at the property, it is worthwhile to consider you can claim for an exemption if the property is classed as ‘inhabitable’ and undergoing major works. This again varies from council to council, for example in Blackpool this isn’t possible to be claimed, but for a property under Wyre council you can claim upto 12 month exemption. As part of this process you will be required to submit evidence showing the works and demonstrating the property is inhabitable.
For the Serviced Accomodation providers out there, you can potentially pay 0 council tax! What Landlords in the serviced accommodation model sometimes forget to realise is that you are operating a business and small businesses benefit from small business rates relief (up-to a rateable value of £16 000). Most Serviced Accomodation units will fall under the the £16 000 rateable value, hence meaning you can benefit from an exemption in this scenario. To benefit from this exemption you need to change the council tax banding so the property is rated under commercial business rates as opposed to domestic rates.
To summarise, be conscious of potential council tax bills you will incur when property is empty. Ensure you have claimed your necessary exemption. Notify council of any changes of tenancy.