How we can help
We’re experts at providing advice on how to address some of the most common problems faced by the owners of empty homes. We realise there isn’t always an easy fix when it comes to empty home issues, but whatever the situation, we can help assess your options and guide you through the process of letting, renovating or selling your empty property as quickly and easily as possible.
Use our advice service leaflet to see how we can help you with your empty home.
Getting in touch: What happens?
- When you get in touch, we’ll ask for some details about you and the empty property. We’ll listen to your problem and ask what you’d like to happen. Whether you’re looking to sell an inherited house, fund a home renovation, find an owner or discuss Council Tax on empty properties, we can help. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure, our advisers will help you weigh up your options.
- We might be able to give you information straight away, or we might need to do some research and get back to you. We’ll always try to get back to you within one working day with the information you need to move towards selling your empty property – or bringing it back into use some other way.
- Many councils have local, dedicated Empty Homes Officers. Where possible, we will put you in touch with them for local assistance. If there isn’t an Empty Homes Officer in your area, we’ll work with you directly.
Council Tax on empty properties
Homes that are left empty and unfurnished may be entitled to a six-month Council Tax exemption, applied from the date the property was last occupied. After that, a 10%-50% discount can be applied for another six months. The discount value is determined by your local authority.
There are also exemptions and discounts if the homeowner passes away, or if the property needs structural repairs. To check the Council Tax status of your empty property, get in touch with our team.
How much Council Tax is payable after the property has been empty for 12 months?
Once a property has been empty for 12 months and has used up all its Council Tax exemptions and discounts, an ‘unoccupied premium’ or levy could be applied. If so, this effectively means that 200% Council Tax is payable. This also applies to landlords paying council tax on an empty property without a tenant
It’s up to individual local authorities to decide how to apply this levy, although the Scottish Government has issued some guidance on the matter. Factors that could be considered include:
- Reasons why a property has remained unoccupied
- An empty home owner’s circumstances
- What work has already been carried out
If you're facing double Council Tax in Scotland, or if you’re unsure about how much you should be paying, get in touch with our advice service for a chat.
How much Council Tax is payable on an empty property that is on the market?
For empty homes that are actively being marketed for sale or rent, you won’t have to pay Council Tax levy. This means that you would not have to pay the Council Tax levy until the property has been empty for up to 24 months. Full Council Tax is still payable once any discounts and exemptions have been exhausted.
What is the Council Tax unoccupied premium or levy?
Once a property has been empty for 12 months this additional premium can be applied to your Council Tax bill meaning 200% Council Tax is payable.
When can the Council Tax levy be applied?
The flowchart above gives a handy guide to when the Council Tax unoccupied premium or levy can be applied. Image description
When is the best time to sell my empty home?
It’s important to be realistic about your property’s value based on its condition, demand for your type of property and the local housing market. Owning an empty property can be a financial burden. The longer it stays unoccupied, the more of a financial drain it might become. In some cases, it'll be in your best interest to sell your empty house at auction or via the open market in whatever current condition it’s in.
Grant of confirmation issued after owner passed away – what do I do now?
We understand that dealing with the affairs of a loved one is a difficult and sometimes lengthy process. After dealing with the estate and obtaining the grant of confirmation now may be the time you start to think about what to do with the property. We appreciate you may have an attachment to a family home, but our advisers are here to listen and help guide you through your options. If you have questions about what action to take after being issued a grant of confirmation in Scotland, contact our advice service.
I need help financing empty home renovations
Funding for the owners of individual empty homes is limited, and largely dependent on the local authority area the property is in. If you can’t afford to fund home renovations, give us a call. Our advisers will be able to tell you whether there is any funding available in your area.
What can I do when there isn’t any funding available?
If initial plans don’t work out due to financing, there are other things to consider which may help your budget:
Reduced rate VAT at 5% for residential properties empty for 2 years or more
Goods and services associated with the renovation of empty residential properties, which have been empty for two years or more, may qualify for a reduced rate VAT of 5%. This is applied by the VAT registered contractor. Our handy guide gives an overview of HMRC guidelines on eligibility.
Property empty for 10 years or more? You may be able to reclaim your VAT from HMRC
For properties that have been empty for 10 years or more, you can reclaim VAT from HMRC at the end of the project if you or a close family member plan to live in the property. There’s also a range of discounted services for empty home owners that are worth exploring.
How we have helped
We appreciate that deciding to sell an inherited home can be difficult. There may be family disagreements, for example if your siblings don’t want to sell the property. Our advisers are here to listen and provide the information you need to navigate the situation.
Helping a struggling family with an inherited home
Our advisers helped the relatives of an elderly owner whose house had become empty after they moved into care. It needed to be modernised and cleared of belongings, and the family was struggling to juggle life pressures with the mammoth task of dealing with the property.
With our team’s support, they were able to weigh up the relative merits of selling the property in its current condition and understand the cost of a Council Tax levy, helping them focus their minds on preparing the property for sale. Once the empty property had been cleared, it sold quickly on the open market to become a home for someone once again.
We’ve helped many other empty home owners with all sorts of issues and solutions, including access to reduced VAT on building works.