Empty property charges and advice

The Council operates a proactive approach to ensure that empty homes do not remain empty unnecessarily and fall into misuse or dereliction.

To encourage owners of empty homes to bring their properties back into use, the legislation gives Councils the powers to increase the empty homes premium thresholds and/or reduce or remove discounts on Council Tax bills for properties which are left empty.

Properties empty and unfurnished for less than 3 months

Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties are entitled to a 100% discount for up to 3 months.

This 3 month discount is awarded to the property, and it does not automatically re-start if ownership changes. The discount is granted from the date that the property first became unoccupied and unfurnished, which may not be the same as the date of purchase.

After the maximum 3 months 100% discount has expired, if the property remains unoccupied and substantially unfurnished the full Council Tax charge becomes payable, unless the property is requiring or undergoing major repairs.

Properties undergoing or requiring major repairs

Properties undergoing or requiring major repairs are entitled to a 50% discount for up to twelve months, providing that the empty property is either:-

  • undergoing major repair work or structural alteration, or
  • needs major repair work to make it habitable

The 50% discount will not apply unless the work is structural or major.

To receive the major repair/structural alterations discount you need to notify us promptly of any structural alterations because we may need to inspect the property.

After the maximum 12 months discount has expired, the full Council Tax charge (or empty property premium charge, dependent upon how long the property has been vacant) is payable even if the property is still uninhabitable.

Find out more about properties undergoing major repairs and structural alterations

Long-term empty property premium

Blackburn with Darwen Council is committed to reducing the number of empty homes in the area. To help us do this, on the 24th January 2019 the Council decided that the following empty property premium charges would be introduced:

  • With effect from 1st April 2019, where a property remains unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for more than two years an additional premium of 100% will be charged, meaning that the Council Tax bill will be 200%
  • With effect from 1st April 2020, where a property remains unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for more than five years an additional premium of 200% will be charged, meaning that the Council Tax bill will be 300%
  • With effect from 1st April 2021, where a property remains unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for more than ten years an additional premium of 300% will be charged, meaning that the Council Tax bill will be 400%

The premium applies to the property and is calculated on the length of time the property has been empty, so a change in ownership or tenancy will not affect the premium charge.

If a long-term empty property becomes occupied, you must notify us of the new occupier details and the date that they moved in within 21days, as we may need to carry out an inspection of the property. Late notification of a property becoming occupied will only be accepted if sufficient evidence and information can also be supplied to substantiate the date of occupation.

There are limited exceptions where the 200% and/or 300% premium may not be charged, for example where there is a legal or technical issue which is preventing the property being sold or let, or where the property has remained empty beyond 5 years due to exceptional or unforeseen circumstances which are beyond the control of the owner.

If you wish to claim an exception from the 200% or 300% long-term empty property premium please complete the Council Tax general enquiry online form, giving full the details, and we will contact you regarding any further information that is required to support your claim.

Make a Council Tax general enquiry

Empty property discounts and exemptions

Details of other discount or exemptions which may be available for empty properties.

Empty homes assistance

If you have sold the property please complete the bought or sold an empty property form, or if you wish to tell us about another change in circumstance please complete the Council Tax general enquiry form.

The Council also gives advice in relation to bringing empty properties back in to use.

Tell us that you have bought or sold a property