Who should pay the council tax bill?

The ‘highest’ person in the list below is the person who will be responsible for paying the council tax. For example, tenants living in a property with a secure tenancy are liable (responsible) to pay the council tax as tenants. The owner is not living at the property and therefore is lower down in the list.
  1. Resident Freeholder. For example, house owners, who have the legal right over the land on which a property is built as well as the property.
  2. Resident Leaseholder. For example, flat owners, who have the legal right to the property that they occupy, for the period of the lease they have from the owner of the property.
  3. Tenant. For example, a private tenant (where the owner is not living there) or council house tenant.
  4. Person with contractual licence to occupy. For example, a lodger.
  5. Resident. For example, a squatter.
  6. Owner.

A resident is someone aged 18 or over who lives in the property as their only or main home. A property will be exempt (which means no-one has to pay council tax for the property) if it is occupied only by people under the age of 18.

All people who fall into the same group are jointly responsible for paying the council tax. This includes couples living together and joint tenants.

Sometimes the owner, although not living in the property will be responsible for paying the council tax. Examples of when this may apply include:

  • houses in multiple occupation
  • if the property is divided into bedsits with shared facilities, such as the bathroom
  • hostels, such as those run by the Salvation Army
  • properties occupied by ministers of religion, where the church or religious organisation owns the property
  • religious communities
  • a property where the owner is not normally resident, but the occupier is employed by them in domestic service
  • residential care homes
  • nursing homes
  • asylum seekers housed under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

If you are considered liable, but you think that this is wrong, you can appeal.

Joint and several liability

This is a legal term, which means that when more than one person is held responsible to pay and is billed, either or any of them can be required to pay the full amount outstanding.

Students have been excluded from the joint and several liability rule. This means that for properties not classed as houses in multiple occupation and where students share with non-students, only the non-student(s) will be billed and have to pay the council tax.

Newly built or converted properties

If a property is not occupied as soon as it is finished, we will issue a completion notice.

What is a completion notice?

This is a formal notice issued by us. It sets the date that we think the property will be structurally completed and ready for occupation.

How do we decide on the completion date?

We will inspect your property regularly while it is being built or changed. When we think it is structurally complete or that the remaining work could be completed within three months, we will serve you a completion notice setting the completion date.

What if the remaining work can't be reasonably complete by the completion date?

You can appeal within 28 days from the date the notice was sent. Information will be sent with the completion notice.

A - Z of council services