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Families 'facing financial hardship' from hard-to-sell inherited homes

The important issue of hard-to-sell inherited properties has been raised in Parliament.

Labour MP Zarah Sultana issued a written question asking what support the Government provides to assist people who have inherited a property from a deceased relative but face financial hardship because they have been unable to sell within the 6-month council tax exemption period.

This is a cause close to this editor’s heart as it took more than a year to sell my late dad’s retirement property and the council refused to budge on charging us council tax on an empty home after the exemption period despite our best efforts to sell it during the pandemic.


Lee Rowley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, responded to Sultana: When a property is empty following the death of the owner, it is exempt from council tax for as long as it remains unoccupied and until probate is granted. 

“Following a grant of probate, a further exemption of up to six months is possible, after which normal rules apply. However, local authorities have powers to agree alternative payment arrangements and some offer to defer payment until the proceeds of a sale are made available.”

That is certainly not my experience and it occurs to me that the slower housing market and lower levels of buyer demand could make it even harder to sell inherited homes, which are often retirement properties - that already have a restricted catchment - or are in need of a lot of improvements.

Struggling to sell a late loved one’s home just adds to the grieving process as it can be hard to move on with such a big loose end to tie up.

Incidentally, it was the more pricey retirement specialist agent attached to the complex who ended up selling my dad's place after I initially refused to use them because of the cost.

You can read about the issues I and others faced in a piece I wrote for the Mail on Sunday in 2020.


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