VAT 5% discount on Class E - Hospital / Res home exemptions

Dear all, I have been asked to provide a VAT discount letter on an empty property stating the date when the previous owner vacated to go into a care home. I can see that there was a Class E - Hospital / Residential Home exemption in place on council tax prior to the date that the current owner has been given when the property was empty, and that it has been empty since with probate / empty & unfurnished codes under both owners. Please can anyone confirm if the Class E - in hospital / home exemption is sufficient to class the property as empty for the HMRC 5% reduced rate VAT, or if it is classed as a second home? Thanks, Hannah Cann, EPO, West Lindsey DC.

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tax and VAT

The key phrase in the VAT Guidance relates to whether the home has been lived in.
Normally there seems to be a distinction in council tax terminology between "unoccupied" and "vacant".  Vacant means there is nothing in it (eg substantially unfurnished) and unoccupied means no one is living in it. 
"Empty" as used in the VAT documentation is different terminology again, but it certainly doesn't refer to "vacant" and on the other hand it does refer to the key criterion being whether the home has been lived in eg

8.3 Has the premises been lived in recently?
8.3.1 How does the two year rule work?
You can only reduced-rate the renovation or alteration if, in the two years immediately before renovation works start, the qualifying residential premises has not been lived in.

On that basis, you surely should be OK to certify that the property has not been lived in for 2 years if ti's been in Exemption Class E for that long.  Exemption Class E says that the home must have been unoccupied, not vacant and requires that the liable person:

"has his sole or main residence elsewhere"

So they are not living in the subject property and presumably nobody else is either.