2+ Year VAT Discount

I have an empty home onwer wanting a letter from me confirming there property has been empty for 2+ years in order to get the VAT discount.

Council tax records show the property has been 'empty' (unoccupied but not unfurnished) for 2+ years in February 2020. VAT guidance also refers to 'empty' for 2+ years in order to get the VAT discount.

However the property has not been empty AND unfurnished for 2+ years (this falls later in the year September 2020).

The VAT guidance refers to 'empty' for 2+ years and in the home owners eyes it will have been in February 2020.

Can anybody share any information on the definition of 'empty' for the VAT purposes. it is my understanding that the property has to been unoccupied and unfurnished for 2+years in order to qualify???

I have tried to explain to the home owner that the term 'empty' refers to unoccupied and unfurnished but they are wanting evidence of where it states it has to be unfurnished.

any help greatly appreciated......

Helen Stevens 

EPO Arun District Council

tax and VAT

VAT Notice 708 states in section

8.1.1 Introduction

If you carry out work to an existing building you will normally have to charge VAT at the standard rate. You may be able to charge VAT at the reduced rate of 5% if you’re renovating or altering either:

  • an eligible dwelling that has not been lived in during the 2 years immediately before your work starts

This seems to indicate that furnituire is not an issue.

EPO Croydon


I agree with Francis.  The furnished/furniture element seems to be irrelevant for the VAT discount, it's the Unoccupied element  which is important.  I also provide a VAT letter if council tax notes confirm the owner has been in a care home for the two years, for example, meaning that property would be furnished but Unoccupied during that time.

Lynne Leach, South Lakeland District Council

Lynne Leach

I agree, we have never taken into account whether the property is furnished/unfurnished. It's to do with the property being empty as not lived in.

Hi Helen

How do the council tax records show that the home was unoccupied but not unfurnished?

If it was not unfurnished, then presumably it was classed as a second home. If it was classed as a second home, then the onus should be on the owner to provide robust evidence that it was not occupied - I don't see how council tax records could prove that.

Note that 708 goes on to say (8.3.3)

If the dwelling has been lived in on an occasional basis (for example, because it was a second home) in the 2 years immediately before you start your work you cannot reduce rate your supply.

As I understand it, by leaving furniture in the home the owner will benefit because the empty homes premium will not be payable till two years after the point when it lost its second home status. They want to have their cake and eat it. 

Out of interest do any of you charge for this service? If so how much do you charge?

Many thanks

Sarah Collins-Smith

EPO Cherwell District Coucil and South Northants Council