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Essential advice on your problems with building, budgeting, DIY & planning from the most experienced names in the self build industry


Do I have to pay council tax while renovating my new home?

I recently bought a property in Scotland that had been empty for almost a year and was in need of some major renovation work. On notifying the local authority that the house would be empty while work was carried out, I was duly told that I would be charged 200% council tax (effectively meaning I have to pay three times over, when including my current home). The one year discount on empty dwellings applies to the building and not the owner, so mine had been used up by the vendor.

I understand that there are good reasons behind trying to stop properties lying vacant, but feel it’s unfair in such instances. Surely there has to be another option, if it can be proved that work is ongoing to bring the residence back to a liveable standard, without having that extra financial burden put upon the buyer?

This is a helpful reminder to all would-be renovators that the empty property rule due to disrepair is time-bound on the abode for 12 months only. In my English local authority, the discount for the first year is only 50% of the council tax and after this the rate is restored to 100%. If the property remains unoccupied after a following 12 month period then the council tax burden is increased to 150%. It seems in Scotland the tariffs are slightly different at 0% and then 200% after the qualifying timeframe.

The reality is that if a vacant home is purchased where the council tax exemption (or discount) has already been used up, this should be reflected in the purchase price paid for the house, as there will then be a council tax premium whilst the structural works are carried out. I am sure that not many folks will realise this until they actually acquire a property for renovation and then discover they’re liable for this extra cost a little too late! Good luck with the rest of your project.

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About Build It

Build It magazine’s January issue is packed with detailed practical advice & inspiring projects to help you create your dream home. Here’s a taster of what’s inside: • Stunning contemporary oak frame home (page 22) • Revealed: your new right to self build (page 62) • The best low-maintenance cladding options (page 69) • Running an air source heat pump (page 80) • Expert guide to gaining planning permission (page 94) • Designing the perfect extension (page 106) … and more!