Who pays council tax?

The Council Tax is a property and person based charge that results in one bill for each household. Paying the bill is normally the responsibility of the freehold or leasehold owner if he or she lives in the property as his or her main or only home and is over 18.

What happens if the owner does not live in the property?

Then the responsibility falls to residents in the following order - statutory or secure tenants, people living there under a licence and other residents.

What happens if no-one lives in the property?

If the property is no-one’s main or only home, then the owner will normally be liable. This applies, for instance, in the case of second homes.

When are owners liable?

The owners would always be liable in the following circumstances:

  • residential care homes, nursing homes and some hostels
  • religious communities
  • houses in multiple-occupation (any property normally occupied by a number of people who do not form a single household, for example nurses’ homes and hostels)
  • homes occasionally occupied by an employer whose staff live there as domestic service employees
  • the homes of ministers of religion (Church of England properties are normally the responsibility of the Diocesan Board of Finance)
  • homes provided for asylum seekers under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

What happens if more than one person is liable?

Where more than one person has an interest in a property (joint owners, for instance), then both are said to be 'jointly and severally liable', which means that the bill can be sent to either or both of them and either can be held responsible for the full amount.

This applies to a husband and wife or common-law partnership even when only one of them owns the property and civil partners or those living together as civil partners. Students are not jointly or severally liable in cases where they live with non-students.

Appeals against liability to pay Council Tax

You can appeal to the Council if you consider that you are not liable to pay the Council Tax either because you consider that:

  • you are not the person liable to make payment
  • your property is exempt, or
  • you disagree with decisions made on an application for a disability reduction, or discount

You cannot appeal against the Council Tax set by the Council.

You must continue to pay Council Tax until any appeal is decided. The bill will be adjusted if your appeal is successful.