Council Tax

Who Pays the Bill?

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

Who pays the bill for the home, depends on who is liable. To work out who has to pay for your home (or "dwelling"), look down the list below. As soon as you reach a description which applies to someone in your home, they will be responsible for the bill (and will be the "liable person").

  • 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 of 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 tax. If the property is empty, or it is no-one's main home, the owner is responsible for the bill.

Are the residents always liable? 

In some special cases the owner, not the residents, has to pay the council tax. These are:-

  • dwellings occupied by more than one household, where the residents pay rent separately for different parts of the dwelling and where the households perhaps share cooking or washing facilities, for example, some hostels, nurses' homes or groups of bed-sits;
  • 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;
  • vicarages and other dwellings where a minister of religion lives and works. (Where the owner-occupier is a Church of England minister of religion, the Church is responsible for the bill.

If you live in such a dwelling, where the owner is liable, you do not have to pay the Council Tax. If your landlord is the liable person, they might be able to ask you to pay something towards the bill, depending on the terms of your agreement with them.

Does only one person have to pay in each dwelling? 

In some cases, more than one person is responsible for seeing that the bill is paid. People who are joint owners or joint tenants are jointly liable. Husbands and wives of people who are liable are jointly responsible for paying the bill if they live in the same dwelling. This also applies where a man and woman are living together as husband and wife.
A person who is severely mentally impaired will not be jointly liable. 

Do all liable persons get their own bill?

Your council may send the bill to just one of the liable people, to some of them, or to all of the liable people. This will depend on the information supplied when the Council is informed who is responsible for Council Tax.

How do councils know who is liable?

You should inform your Council when you become responsible for Council Tax. If this does not happen, Councils may send out forms asking for information so that they can tell who should pay. If your Council sends you a form, you should complete it and return it to the Council. If you don't return the form, you may face a penalty of £70.

Am I still liable if I am not counted for the bill?

If you are the liable person and you get a discount or are not counted, your bill may be reduced. But you will still be responsible for paying the reduced amount.

What if I disagree with the council's decision about who is liable?

If you disagree with the Council's decision about your liability, you should write, explaining what you object to and why. The Council has two months to provide an answer. If you still disagree with the Council, or if it has not acted within the two month period, you can appeal to a Valuation Tribunal. You should continue to pay your original bill while your appeal is outstanding.

What happens if I move?

The Council Tax is worked out on a daily basis. If you move home you may stop being the liable person for your old home, and may become the liable person for your new home. If you tell your old Council about your move it can adjust your bill and make sure that you pay the right amount up to the day you leave. This is especially important if you move to a new Council area as you may be due a refund, depending on the method you used to pay the Council Tax and how much has already been paid.

You would also need to contact your new Council and tell them the date you became liable at your new property. If you move within the same area, your Council will need to know the date you moved. They will collect the details for your new address, and send you adjusted bills for both your old and your new property.