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Council tax exemptions

You may not have to pay council tax, depending on your circumstances. Read more about council tax exemptions and how to arrange yours with the council. Do not stop paying your council tax until you have agreed with the council that you are exempt from paying, or you could end up with council tax arrears.

Council tax and empty properties

My house is empty and unfurnished

After your house has been empty and unfurnished for six weeks you can be exempt from paying council tax for the house for up to six months. If it is still empty and unfurnished after six months, you may be able to get a discount on your council tax bill.

My house is empty as it is undergoing major repairs or alterations

The major repairs or alterations must be the reason for you not staying in the house. If this is the case, you can be exempt from paying the council tax for one year after the last day that you stayed in the property.

My house is empty because I have had to leave to receive care

You will be exempt from paying council tax if you are away from home to receive care because:

  • you are elderly
  • you suffer from ill-health or a mental health problem
  • you have a disability
  • you are or have been dependent on alcohol or drugs.

You are only exempt from paying council tax after you have been away for six weeks, but you can be away indefinitely.

My house is empty as I have had to leave to care for someone else

You will be exempt from paying council tax if you are away from home to provide care for someone who:

  • is elderly
  • suffers from ill-health or a mental health problem
  • has a disability
  • is or has been dependent on alcohol or drugs.

You are only exempt from paying council tax after you have been away for six weeks, but you can be away indefinitely.

My house is empty because I am in hospital

You will be exempt from paying council tax once you have been in hospital for six weeks. You can be away indefinitely.

My house is empty because I am in prison

You will be exempt from paying council tax once you have been in prison for six weeks. You can be away indefinitely.

Council tax and renting a trial flat from a housing association

If you rent a trial flat from a housing association because you are disabled or you are a pensioner you will be exempt from paying council tax.

Council tax and students

You will only be exempt from paying council tax if there are only full-time students living in your house.

If you are a student but live with someone who is not a student, you may be able to get a discount on the council tax bill for your house.

You will be exempt from paying council tax if you live in halls of residence.

I am under 18

If you are under 18 and live with other people who are under 18, no one will have to pay council tax until someone turns 18. If you are the only person over 18 living in a house with under 18-year-olds, you may be able to get a council tax discount.

I am severely mentally impaired

If you live alone and you are severely mentally impaired, or if you and everyone you live with are severely mentally impaired, you will be exempt from paying council tax. You will need a health professional such as a doctor to sign a form to say that you are severely mentally impaired. You can get this form from your council tax department.

Council tax and 'granny flats'

If there is a granny flat attached to your house, but there are separate council tax bills for your home and the granny flat, you will be exempt from paying council tax for the granny flat if it is empty.

Council tax if you live in shared accommodation and receive housing support

You may also be exempt from paying council tax if you:

  • live in rented accommodation, and
  • receive housing support services, and
  • share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet with other residents in your accommodation.

I think I'm exempt from paying council tax

If you think that you might be exempt from council tax, you need to tell the council in writing. In your letter you should include:

  • the reasons why you think you should be exempt
  • the date that you think you stopped being liable to pay council tax. (If this date is in the past, you may be able to get money back from the council.)

The council will notify you in writing if they accept that you no longer have to pay council tax. Do not stop paying your council tax until you have received notification.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • You can be exempt from paying council tax but do not stop paying until you have agreement from the council that this is OK.
  • Being in hospital, prison or leaving to receive care all mean you are exempt but only after you've been away for 6 weeks.
  • If your house has been empty and unfurnished for 6 weeks, you can then be exempt from paying council tax for up to 6 months.
  • If major repairs or alterations mean you're not staying in the house you can be exempt from paying council tax for up to a year.

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