Councils now have power to charge and additional premium rate for empty residential property which has not been occupied for some time.

The premium in England is an extra 50% and applies to property that has been empty for two years or more. In Wales the premium can be an additional 100%.

This means your could get a bill for rates that you will feel the Seller should have covered.

If the property you are buying is empty, check how long it has been empty for, and ask the Seller for an additional clause in the sale contract in which the Seller indemnifies the you the Buyer for any rates liability arising by virtue of the fact that the property has been empty prior to completion.

The definition of empty property ignores any occupation of less than six weeks, so that if a property is occupied for more than 6 week the “clock is reset”.

If you plan extensive works on a dilapidated property that has been empty for some time, you may wish to consider occupying the property for at least 6 weeks to ensure the clock has been reset during their proposed works.