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Do you need to pay council tax on a holiday home?

Your guide to paying council tax on your holiday home.

holiday home council tax
Owning a holiday home can be a delightful escape, but it comes with its own set of responsibilities, including understanding council tax obligations. Whether your holiday home is a quaint coastal sea view retreat or a charming countryside cottage, knowing the ins and outs of council tax for holiday homes in the UK is essential. This guide will help you navigate these waters, ensuring you’re fully informed.

Council Tax on Holiday Homes

When it comes to council tax on holiday homes, several misconceptions can lead to confusion. Let’s clear up some of the most common misunderstandings and explain the general rules, discounts, and exemptions.

Common Misconceptions

Holiday Homes Are Exempt from Council Tax

Many believe that holiday homes are exempt from council tax. However, this is not the case. While there may be discounts or exemptions available, holiday homes are generally subject to council tax.

All Councils Offer the Same Discounts

Discounts on council tax for holiday homes vary significantly by local authority. It’s important to check with the specific council where your holiday home is located to understand the available discounts.

Empty Holiday Homes Automatically Get a Discount

Not all empty holiday homes qualify for a council tax discount. The criteria for discounts can differ, and some councils may impose additional charges on long-term empty properties.

General Rule

As a general rule, holiday homes in the United Kingdom are subject to council tax, similar to your primary residence. However, the specific rules and potential discounts can vary depending on the local authority where your holiday home is located.

Discounts and Exemptions

Furnished Second Homes

Some local councils offer discounts on council tax for furnished second homes. This discount can be up to 50%, but it varies by region. It’s important to check with your local council to understand the exact discount available.

Empty and Unfurnished Properties

If your holiday home is empty and unfurnished, you might be eligible for a discount or exemption for a specific period. Again, this is determined by your local council’s policy.

Seasonal Occupation

In some cases, if your holiday home is only occupied seasonally, you might qualify for a reduced council tax rate. This is more common in tourist-heavy areas where properties are primarily used during peak seasons.

Higher Charges for Long-Term Empty Properties

Be aware that if your holiday home remains unoccupied for an extended period (usually over two years), some councils may impose a higher council tax rate. This surcharge is aimed at encouraging property owners to use their properties rather than leave them vacant.

How to Find Out Your Council Tax Rate

The best way to determine the council tax rate for your holiday home is to contact the local authority where the property is situated. Each council sets its own rules, so it’s crucial to get accurate information directly from them. Alternatively, you can check your council tax band via the GOV.UK online postcode checker.

Implications for Letting Your Holiday Home

If you decide to rent out your holiday home, the council tax obligations might change. For example:

Business Rates

If your property is available for short-term lets for more than 140 days a year, it might be classified as a self-catering property, and you could be liable for business rates instead of council tax.

Furnished Holiday Lettings

For properties qualifying as Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL), different tax rules may apply, including potential reliefs on business rates.

Ensuring Proper Insurance

Regardless of whether your holiday home is occupied, unoccupied, or rented out, having the right insurance is vital. Holiday home insurance typically covers risks specific to properties that are not constantly occupied, such as:
  • checkDamage from Weather: Properties left empty for long periods are more susceptible to damage from storms or floods.
  • checkTheft and Vandalism: Unoccupied properties can be targets for theft or vandalism.
  • checkPublic Liability: If you rent out your holiday home, public liability insurance is crucial in case a guest is injured on the property.


Understanding your council tax obligations for a holiday home in the UK is crucial for ensuring you remain compliant with local regulations and avoid unnecessary penalties. Check with your local council to understand specific discounts or exemptions that might apply to your property. Additionally, securing comprehensive holiday home insurance will protect your investment from various risks associated with seasonal or periodic occupancy.

If you have more questions don’t hesitate to contact our experts. We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of holiday home ownership with ease.

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