Who pays Council Tax?

Find out what help is available for paying your Council Tax during the coronavirus outbreak.

If you are over 18 and own or rent your home, you will usually have to pay Council Tax.

When you tell us about the people living in your property (dwelling) we will work out who is responsible for the Council Tax bill. Please contact us us if you're not sure who should pay, or see more below.

Find out about:

Properties where the occupants don't pay the bill

Sometimes the people living in a property won't have to pay the Council Tax, and the owner will pay the bill instead. Some examples include:

  • residential care homes, nursing homes or hostels
  • houses in multiple occupation – such as where people have their own room but share some facilities
  • properties provided to ministers of religion for them to performs their duties (where a Church of England minister owns their own house, the Diocesan Board of Finance will pay the bill)
  • properties occupied by religious communities (monks and nuns)
  • properties provided to asylum seekers

How we decide who is responsible for the Council Tax bill

We work down the list below, the first person* meeting one of the criteria is the person that is liable to pay the Council Tax:

  1. a resident freeholder
  2. a resident leaseholder
  3. a resident statutory tenant or secure tenant
  4. a resident licensee
  5. any other resident
  6. the owner (if there are no residents)

* If two or more people share this position, they are jointly (and individually) liable for the bill.

Couples are also jointly and individually liable if they are married or civil partners, or live together as a married couple or civil partners.

Advice for landlords and tenants

Where the property is no-one's main residence, the owner will be liable to play the Council Tax bill.

If a tenant has a weekly or monthly tenancy (or a tenancy where the notice period is less than six months) the tenant can't be held liable for the Council Tax once they have moved out. This includes where the original period of an assured shorthold tenancy has expired without another tenancy of six months or more having been created.

Who is classed as an 'owner'?

An 'owner' is a person with:

  • a freehold interest in the property, or
  • a leasehold interest granted for a term of six months or more

Where there is more than one interest (and the property has no residents), the person holding the most inferior interest is liable to pay the Council Tax. For example, if there is a freeholder and a qualifying leaseholder, it is the leaseholder that is liable.

What is a 'dwelling'?

A 'dwelling' for Council Tax is any property that could be used as someone's home, such as a flat, house or bungalow.

Caravans, park homes and boats can also be counted for Council Tax if they are someone's main home - even though they may move, the pitch or mooring they are on will be listed for Council Tax.

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Last updated on 23/11/2023