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How your sole or main residence affects your Council Tax

Under Council Tax law, a person is classed as living at an address if it is their ‘sole or main residence’. If a person has only one address, that address is their sole residence. However, if he or she spends time at more than one address, we have to decide which one is their main residence.
Once we have worked out which address is your main residence, we must only count you as a resident at that address, not at the other address. If you are the only person who ever lives at each address and are the liable person at each address (the person responsible for paying the bill), you will qualify for a single person discount at your main residence. However, we will count no residents at the other address, so you will be charged at that address for an unoccupied but furnished property. The amount payable for that type of property can vary between councils but in Leeds, the full Council Tax is payable.
What does ‘main residence’ mean?
Unfortunately, Council Tax law does not explain what ‘main residence’ means.  However, a number of cases have been before the High Court and the judges’ decisions in those cases have given councils guidelines to follow. Details of some of these cases are given in the document ‘Sole or main residence cases’. 

A person does not necessarily have to be physically present at an address all the time for it to be their main residence. We have to look into the circumstances at each address. The things we have to take into account are:

  • whether they physically reside at each address;
  • the reasons why they have two addresses;
  • where their wife, husband or partner lives, if they have one;
  • where their children live, if they have any;
  • their legal tie to each address;
  • where they keep most of their belongings;
  • whether they intend to return to one address eventually;
  • whether anything prevents them from returning whenever they want to;
  • which address seems to be their most settled home.

We must also look at the amount of time they spend at each address, but this is not the most important thing.

Can you be charged for a property that isn’t your main residence?
Yes. Even though a property is not your main residence, you may still be the person responsible for paying the bill (that is, the liable person) – see the document ‘Who has to pay’ which explains how to work out who has to pay the Council Tax.
What to do if you think we have got your sole or main residence wrong.
You need to email or write to us giving your name and address(es) and explaining why you think we have made a wrong decision.  It will save time if you study the bulleted list above (of things we have to take into account) and give us all this information when you contact us.

My wife works abroad. She’s been home about 4 weeks this year. Can I get a Single Person Discount?

Usually no, because her ‘sole or main residence’ is still regarded as being at the marital home. But we need to know more about the circumstances, so you should contact the Council Tax office.