May elections

You must register to vote in the upcoming May elections before Wednesday 17 April. If you cannot attend the elections, you can apply for a postal vote before 5pm on Wednesday 17 April. Find all the key dates on our election news page.


Council Tax property exemptions and discounts


Occupied property exemptions

You can apply for exemption on properties that are:

  • occupied only by full-time students
  • occupied only by people under the age of 18
  • occupied only by people who are severely mentally impaired
  • occupied by visiting diplomats
  • an annexe lived in by an elderly or disabled relative, who’s family live in the main property

Empty property exemptions

You can apply for an empty property exemption if the property is empty and exempt from Council Tax. These include homes:

  • of someone in prison (except for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
  • of someone who’s moved into a care home or hospital
  • of someone who has moved to care for someone else
  • that are left empty after the occupant has died
  • that have been repossessed
  • that can’t be lived in by law, for example if they’re derelict
  • that are empty because they’ve been compulsory purchased and will be demolished
  • that are owned by a charity (exempt for six months)
  • that are waiting for a minister of religion to move in
  • of students whose term-time address is elsewhere
  • that have been left empty by someone made bankrupt
  • that form part of another property and are not let separately
  • that are pitches that do not have resident caravan owners or moorings that do not have resident boat owners


Unfurnished properties

If your property is empty and unfurnished, you can apply for a discount of 100% for a maximum of 3 months.

The discount lasts for a maximum of 3 months, and applies to the property and not the owner. This means that if the previous owner claimed the discount for some of the 3 months, you can only claim it for the remaining time.

After 3 months, we will charge Council Tax in full. 

To be able to apply for a second empty property discount, the property needs to have been occupied for over 6 weeks before it becomes empty and unfurnished again. 

From 1 April 2024, if your property is empty and substantially unfurnished for 1 year, we will charge Council Tax in full plus an additional 100%.

To apply for a discount for an empty and unfurnished property, you will need:

  • your Council Tax account number
  • your name, address and contact details
  • to tell us when the property became empty and unfurnished

You can find more information in our empty and second homes premiums policy (pdf)

Major works

If your property is uninhabitable as it needs or is undergoing major repair works (this doesn’t include refurbishment), you may be able to claim a 50% discount for up to 12 months.

If during the twelve months the repairs are complete, a discount of 50% will still apply. However this will only be up to the first anniversary of when the repairs started, or at the end of six months from when the repairs were complete, or when the property becomes occupied, whichever date comes first.

Second homes

If you have a furnished second home, you will have to pay full Council Tax.

From 1 April 2025, we will charge Council Tax in full plus an additional 100%.

If the property is required for work (for example a school caretaker required to live on site) you can apply for a second home discount of 50%.

You can find more information in our empty and second homes premiums policy (pdf)

After you claim your discount

If you apply for a discount, we may need to visit your property to confirm that the discount or exemption should apply.

We will review your discount or exemption from time to time and ask you to confirm whether it still applies.

If you have a discount, you need to let us know if your circumstances change within 21 days, otherwise you may have to pay a penalty.

Change or cancel your discount

If you no longer qualify for a discount, you need to report this to us online.


You can make an appeal if you have claimed:

  • a discount and this has not been granted
  • that your property is exempt from Council Tax and this has not been granted
  • a reduction because you have a disabled person in your household and this has not been granted

To make an appeal, you need to write to us using our online contact form or post to: Revenues and Benefits, Civic Centre, The Water Gardens, College Square, Harlow CM20 1WG

You still need to continue to pay your Council Tax in full until the appeal is resolved. 

If we cannot resolve your appeal, or you do not get a reply within 2 months, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal