Who has to pay Council Tax?
Each home receives one Council Tax bill. Council Tax regulations set out who is responsible for paying the bill – the ‘liable person’. In certain cases, the owner is always liable (see 'Cases where the owner is always liable' further down this page), but usually the residents are responsible.
If there is more than one resident, the liable person is whoever appears nearest the top of the following list:
- a resident freeholder (for example, an owner-occupier)
- a resident leaseholder (for example, an assured tenant)
- a resident statutory or secure tenant
- a resident licensee
- a resident
- a tenant who has a lease of six months or more, but does not live at the property
- the owner (where there are no residents).
A resident is someone over the age of 18 who has their sole or main residence in the property. For more information on this, see the related pages below.
Where the description fits more than one person, those people are jointly and severally liable (except in the case of full-time students, who cannot be held jointly liable with non-students). This means that each person is legally responsible for the whole Council Tax bill and not just ‘their share’.
Husbands and wives or civil partners living in the same home are jointly liable, as are unmarried couples.
If we send you a bill and you think you should not be liable, you should contact us about it. If we cannot reach an agreement you can appeal to an independent tribunal. For details on how to do this, look in the downloads section below.
Cases where the owner is always liable
In some cases, the owner has to pay the Council Tax even if they are not living in the property and somebody else is resident. These are
- residential care homes, nursing homes and some hostels
- residences which are occupied by more than one household and the residents pay rent separately for different parts of the property, or which are specially built or altered so that people of different households can live in them (known as Houses In Multiple Occupation or HIMOs - for more information on this, look in the related pages section below)
- residences which are for let for less than six months to a tenant whose main residence is elsewhere
- residences provided to asylum seekers under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- residences of ministers of religion
- residences of religious communities
- residences of domestic servants
Paying your Council Tax
There are a number of ways to pay your Council Tax, though the easiest is by Direct Debit. For details of all of the ways you can pay and how to set up a Direct Debit, look in the related pages below. From 2013/14, you can pay your annual Council Tax bill in 12 instalments from April to March, rather than 10, but you need to contact us in writing before 05.04.13 if you wish to do this. We can also extend your monthly instalments through to March during the year, but you need to contact us in writing if you wish to do this.
Council Tax regulations set out the actions we will take if you do not pay your Council Tax instalments on time. For more information, look in the related pages section below. If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, or you have a question which you cannot find the answer to below in our 'Ask a question' section, go to the 'Contact Us' section below - please include your account number and/or address on the form.
For those who have special communication needs, there is information on our Equal Access arrangements in the downloads section below.