Who should pay the council tax bill?

There is one council tax bill for each property whether it is a house, bungalow, flat, maisonette, mobile home or houseboat, and whether it is owned or rented.

To decide who is liable to pay council tax, there is a set 'hierarchy', as detailed below. Look down the list and as soon as you reach a description that applies to a person in your home, they will be the person liable for the council tax.

  • A resident freeholder (so for owner occupied-property the owner is liable)
  • A resident leaseholder (this includes assured tenants under the Housing Act 1988)
  • A resident statutory or secure tenant
  • A resident licensee
  • A resident
  • The owner (this applies where the dwelling has no residents)

A 'resident' is a person aged 18 years or over who lives in the dwelling as their only or main home. This means that owner-occupiers or resident tenants (including council tenants) usually have to pay the council tax. If the property is empty or it is no-one's main home, the owner is responsible for payment of the bill.

In certain circumstances the owner and not the resident, is liable to pay the council tax as follows:

  • Dwellings occupied by more than one household where the residents pay rent separately for different parts of the dwelling and where households do, perhaps, share cooking or washing facilities, e.g. some hostels, nurses' homes or groups of bedsits.
  • Residential care homes, nursing homes (such as hospices), mental nursing homes or certain types of hostel providing a high level of care.
  • Religious communities such as monasteries or convents.
  • Dwellings which are not the owner's main home, but which are the main home of someone whom the owner employs in domestic service.
  • Dwellings, which are available for occupation by a minister of any religious denomination as a residence from which to perform his duties.
  • Properties occupied by asylum seekers

If you live in a dwelling where the landlord is liable, you do not have to pay council tax. If your landlord is the liable person, they may ask you to pay something towards the bill, depending on the terms of your agreement with them.

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