Campaigns Finance and Taxation Reform

Landlords call for council tax relief on empty homes

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Landlords are calling on Ministers to tell local authorities that they should not charge council tax on rented homes left empty because of coronavirus. 

A significant number of rented homes have been left empty because tenants have been unable to take up tenancies, or have chosen to move out to be closer to family during the lockdown. 

During this period landlords will become liable for the council tax on the property and have no realistic prospect of finding new tenants.  

The National Residential Landlords Association is asking the Government to tell councils that they should exempt houses have been left empty as a result of the virus from council tax demands.  

Unexpected costs

A recent survey by the NRLA found that 41 per cent of landlords are concerned about having to cover the unexpected costs of utility bills and council tax.  

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, said: “It is manifestly unfair for landlords to be asked to pay council tax on properties which are empty, and likely to remain so, because of the impact of the pandemic. 

“Whilst we remain supportive of the measures taken so far by the government, landlords are being asked to absorb more costs at a time when they are least able.  

“Unlike most small businesses and the self-employed, there has been no direct support package announced for landlords. Removing this unnecessary burden would at least help those landlords who are struggling to cope with drastically reduced income.”

More information 

For more information on coronavirus and your lettings visit the NRLA’s dedicated coronavirus pages, which can be found here.

The NRLA is also running a series of weekly webinars exploring how landlords can manage their portfolios and businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak. For more information click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


  • It would be helpful if the NRLA could also press the Government to exempt landlords from paying on dwellings which are unoccupied but being marketed and advertised as available to let

  • I am one of those landlords severely affected by this. I have three empty properties which I am unable to let until restrictions are lifted. My portfolio cashflow is negative at the moment and I rely on my full time office job to make up the shortfall. I was scheduled to retire in June but my plans are in ruins. Relaxation of the unfair council tax rules would help.
    The worst part of all of this is that due to George Osborne’s Alice in Wonderland economics, I will be receiving a hefty tax bill at the end of the year on top of my losses.

  • I fully support the call for an exemption of council tax payments on empty properties whilst in this current crisis. In normal times this is already a heavy burden on landlords when in between tenants, but to have this laden on them now is scandalous. Finding workmen to do the necessary jobs before re-letting let alone finding new tenants is impossible. The government seems to have thrown a lifeline to everyone so why should landlords be different.

  • The government does not care about landlords or the PRS. Not sure what the end goal is but they must be working to a plan.

  • Whilst I am fortunate that both my rental properties are occupied I fully support this request andI think it’s great that it is being put forward. Hoping it’s a successful decision for landlords in this predicament. As I know I would be very greatful if that was my situation and who knows could find myself in. Thanks NRLA and good luck.

  • This issue of standing energy charges and Council Tax must have impacted landlords, “Buy to Letters” and Agents right across the UK. It seems these utilities must continue to be paid regardless of usage or any COVID emergency, but nothing from HMG of relevance to date. Meetings with prospective tenants and agents impossible without breaking the law or risking death.

    Once again a sizeable chunk of the population are left worrying. I hope your organisation has the clout to achieve something as the situation could last for an indeterminate period. As an aged person letting is stressful enough without propping up the Council. Since becoming a landlord I am aware of the stigma surrounding the title and so do wonder about it all.

  • I have a property that requires extensive work and I am currently paying double council tax on and have not been able to do any work on the property during lockdown, my only income is from one other property. Can this situation be included in the free council tax petition?

    • If you have a contract with a builder with a start and finish date which is impacted by the lock down you should appeal to the council to cancel the additional charge from the date the contract should have ended

  • I am one of those landlords affected by this I have had an empty property since March. I have had free council tax for 3 months but will now need to start paying in June. I have contacted the council and I had an email yesterday saying that I would have to pay it from June which is disgraceful. Its so unfair and something needs to be done about it.

  • This is a situation I found myself. I called the council but they wouldn’t have it. I have spent over £9000.00 to put back the flat back after the last tenant left the place in a mess.

  • My previous tenant moved out at the end of February and left it in a state. I had to get professional cleaners in, then I had to paint and decorate the inside and sort out the garden before I could market it again, by which time it was mid March. I had eight viewings lined up the week we went into lock down. All viewing cancelled, due to the government covid legislation, and a nice letter off the council demanding council tax for my empty house!

    It’s an absolute disgrace that on one hand we have the government imposing fines on people for leaving their houses, other than for food or essential travel, and on the other hand we have the local councils charging for rental properties remaining empty.

    I contacted my local council, Cheshire West & Chester, to explain why my property was empty, their answer, “you have to pay.”
    Legalised robbery!!!

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