Rating of empty homes

Property rates apply to all domestic properties with a rateable capital value of £20,000 or more, including empty properties. The amount due is the same as if the property is lived in. Automatic exclusions and successful applications receive 100 per cent relief.

Identifying an empty property

For rates assessment, an empty property is:

  • unoccupied
  • unfurnished
  • not used for storage

 The owner is responsible for paying rates on an empty property. Four per cent early payment discount is applied to empty property rates.

Change of circumstances

It is important that you tell Land & Property Services (LPS) about any change in circumstances at the empty property, for example the property is sold or becomes occupied. To tell LPS about changes, go to:

Review the property valuation

Your property’s rateable value could be affected by certain structural repairs or rebuilding work. If the property was demolished or you’re doing major structural work, you need to ask LPS to review the property valuation. 

To read more information about getting a property valuation for rates, go to:

Rental properties

Rates apply on empty rental properties.

Rating exclusions on empty homes

Rate exclusions are available  on certain empty homes. For most exclusions, the owner needs to apply and give LPS supporting evidence. When an empty home is excluded from rates, the owner gets 100 per cent rate relief.

The rating exclusion categories are:

  • the empty home cannot be legally occupied by anybody
  • the empty home cannot be occupied by anybody due to the actions of a public body
  • the empty home is a listed building
  • the empty home is an historic monument
  • the empty home is in the possession of the personal representative of a deceased person
  • there is a bankruptcy order against the owner
  • the owner is a trustee under a deed of arrangement
  • the owner is a company in administration
  • the owner of a property is a liquidator
  • the owner is the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission
  • the owner is in care (nursing home, residential care or hospital)
  • the owner is in detention
  • the owner made a successful application to the Housing Executive under the Special Purchase of an Evacuated Dwelling (SPED) scheme
  • the home is empty due to flooding

Rating exclusions on flooded homes

There is a Rating of Empty Homes exclusion for homes affected by flooding. You can apply for an exclusion from rates if:

  • you qualified for compensation from the local council because your home flooded after heavy rain or a tidal surge
  • your property was unoccupied continuously for at least four weeks
  • your property was your main home before the flooding

You could get this exclusion from rates for up to six months. Your property could be eligible even if the flooding hasn't reduced the property's rateable value.

Applying for rating exclusion

If the property is empty for rating purposes, the owner can apply for an exclusion.

To apply, you must use an 'Exclusion from Rating of Empty Homes' form and provide evidence about your property or you.  LPS might need to inspect your property. 

You can edit the form. This allows you to type onscreen and print, or download the form and complete it.

Waiting for a decision about your application

To avoid debt recovery action, you should continue paying rates while LPS processes your application for rating exclusion.

Automatic exclusions

Properties that are automatically excluded from rating of empty homes don't receive a rates bill. Land & Property Services (LPS) will issue a zero balance statement.

These exclusions are:

  • the property's capital value is under £20,000
  • the owner is the first developer or builder of a newly built home that has never been occupied since it was first entered on the capital value list

Twelve-month developer exclusion

This exclusion is only available to a developer of a new home who is also the first owner of the new building.

A developer exclusion from rating on a property lasts for twelve months from the date their property was first shown on the valuation list if on or after 1 April 2012. 

A developer can be:

  • someone who builds their own home
  • a builder or contractor

Buying a new house

 If you  buy  a new property from a developer, you are not entitled to the developer exclusion. You must tell Land & Property Services if you receive the exclusion.  This avoids LPS sending you a backdated rates bill.

Buying an unfinished house

If you buy an unfinished property, you aren't  entitled to the developer exclusion. You don’t qualify as  the first owner and developer.

Refurbishing an existing house

If you refurbish an existing property, you aren't entitled to the developer exclusion. You don’t qualify as the first owner and developer.

How long a rating exclusion lasts

If your application for an exclusion  is successful, Land & Property Services (LPS) will review your entitlement every six or twelve months.

The exclusion due to flooding caused by heavy rain or tidal surge lasts for up to six months. This exclusion ends if you occupy or sell the property.

A developer exclusion is for twelve months. You will be responsible for paying rates on the property after twelve months.

If you sell or rent the property within the twelve months, you no longer qualify for developer exclusion and must tell LPS.

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