Who should pay the Council Tax bill?

We work out who is responsible for paying the Council Tax by looking at the ‘Hierarchy of Legal Interest’ at the property.

This ‘hierarchy’ is defined in government regulations and is based on the ‘status’ of the person(s) living at the property.

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 hierarchy.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tenant. For example, a private tenant (where the owner is not living there) or council house tenant.
  • Person with contractual licence to occupy. For example, a lodger.
  • Resident. For example, a squatter.
  • 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 from Council Tax if it is occupied only by people under 18 years old.

All people who jointly fall into the same group are jointly responsible for paying the Council Tax. This includes husband and wife, 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; and
  • 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 with a completion notice setting the completion date.

What if the remaining work cannot be reasonably complete by the completion date?

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

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