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Empty properties

Find out about council tax reductions for unoccupied properties.
Haven't had your council tax bill?

If you've got a MyLewisham account and have registered to view your council tax account online, you won't get a paper copy of your annual bill – it'll be available to view online instead.

If you don't have MyLewisham account, you'll get a paper copy in the post as normal.

If you spend time at more than one address we have to decide which address is your main residence. We don't give discounts for second homes - you'll need to pay a full council tax charge for your second home. From 1 April 2025, an additional Council Tax empty premium of 100% will be charged on second homes after 1 year.

To work out if you’re entitled to a discount we need to look into your circumstances at each address, including where you, your spouse and children live most of the time.

Use to the table below to see if you're eligible for any empty homes discount:

Exemption class Description How long the exemption lasts

An unoccupied property requiring or undergoing major structural repair to make it habitable.

No reduction is available.              

Unfurnished property owned by charities.

Six months since it was last occupied (as long as the property was last occupied by members of the charity).


Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished.

No reduction is available. (You can request  a maximum of 4 weeks 100% discount if your property was empty and unfurnished before 1 April 2023.)


A property that is unoccupied because the previous occupant is in prison or has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

As long as the person is detained.


A property that is unoccupied because the previous occupant has now moved permanently to either a hospital, a residential care home or a nursing home.


Unoccupied property, where the sole occupier is now deceased.

Until probate or a letter of administration is granted or for a period of up to six months after the date when probate or a letter of administration is granted.

If the property remains unoccupied longer than six months after the grant of probate, no further reduction can be given.


Unoccupied property where occupation is prohibited by the law.

As of 1 April 2007, this exemption also applies if a planning condition prevents occupancy.

As long as occupation is prohibited.


Unoccupied property held for occupation by ministers of religion.

As long as the property remains empty.


Unoccupied property previously the main home of a person now living elsewhere and receiving personal care (but not in a hospital or nursing home).

As long as the property remains empty.


Unoccupied property previously the main home of a person now living elsewhere for the purposes of providing personal care.

As long as the property remains empty.


Unoccupied property previously the main home of students only.

As long as the property remains empty.


An unoccupied property that has been repossessed by a mortgagee such as a bank or building society.

Until the property is sold.


Properties that are university or college halls of residence or hostels owned by charitable bodies used solely for student accommodation.



Property occupied only by full-time students as their term-time address.

More about students and council tax.

As long as all the occupants remain full-time students.


Barracks, messes and married quarters used by the armed forces.

This exemption is indefinite and is granted whether this property is occupied or not.


Property occupied by members of visiting forces.



Unoccupied property where the liable person is a trustee in bankruptcy.



A pitch not occupied by a caravan or a mooring not occupied by a boat.



A dwelling occupied solely by a person or persons aged under 18.

As people under the age of 18 cannot be held liable for council tax, the owner, landlord or guardian will be made liable but given the exemption.

Until the occupant becomes 18.


Unoccupied ‘granny’ annexes.



Dwellings occupied only by the severely mentally impaired. From 1 April 1999 this also applies to properties occupied by both full time students and people who are severely mentally impaired.

More about council tax and people with severe mental impairments. LINK

As long as all of the occupants are severely mentally impaired.


Dwellings which are the main residence of a diplomat or persons working for certain international organisations.



From 1 April 1997 self contained 'granny' annexes that are occupied by a dependant relative aged 65 or over or by someone who is severely disabled are exempt.


Long-term empty properties

  • From 1 April 2025, an empty and substantially unfurnished property premium will be applied after 1 year.
  • properties which are left empty and substantially unfurnished for a period of two years or more will attract a long-term empty premium of 100%
  • if a property has already been empty for 5 years or more you will pay a 200% premium
  • if a property has already been empty for 10 years or more you will pay a 300% premium

The empty homes premium is based upon the property, and not property ownership.

A change of ownership will have no impact on the premium, you will be responsible for the premium from the date of purchase. The additional charge can only be removed by bringing a property back into use. We will send you a new council tax bill if you are affected by the premium.

Occupied annexes

Any self-contained annexe occupied by a relative (regardless of age or disability) will qualify for a 50% discount. If the relative is dependant, severely disabled or aged 65 or over the annexe will continue to be exempt under Class W.

How do I apply?

Use the form below, if before 1 April 2023 the property was empty and unfurnished. After 28 days, if the property is still empty, you must pay the full council tax.

You'll need to have the council tax account number for the empty property.