Council tax Who should pay council tax?

If you're over the age of 18, and you live in a home you own or rent, you'll need to pay council tax, unless:

  • The owner also lives in the property
  • You live in a property with others and have separate tenancy agreements (commonly known as an HMO)
  • You are exempt from paying

If you share your property with other people

If the property is shared with other people who have separate tenancy agreements to live in the property, the property may be considered to be a house in multiple occupation. This means the landlord is liable for council tax, and not the tenants.

If you have a joint tenancy agreement that names you and all the other persons living in the property, you will all be responsible for paying council tax.

Council tax on empty properties

For council tax, where a property is no-one’s main residence, it's the owner of the property who becomes responsible for council tax.

Although this type of liability also arises in the case of second homes or holiday homes, it also applies to occupied dwellings where the sole or all occupiers are under 18 years of age, or where all occupiers are disregarded for example care homes. None of them are classed as resident and liability therefore lies with the owner.

We don't offer any discount for second homes, which are furnished properties which are no-ones main residence, and they attract full council tax with the following exceptions:

  • Any dwelling which consists of a pitch occupied by a caravan, or a mooring occupied by a boat
  • Where the property is classed as a job-related dwelling

Unfurnished, unoccupied properties receive a 100% discount for the first month where they become both unoccupied and substantially unfurnished. After that, full council tax will be payable at 100%, rising to 200% after five years and 300% for properties that have been empty for more than ten years.

More information is available on our empty properties page.

Rented properties

If you rent your property and you are aged 18 and over then you are liable to pay council tax.

If your tenancy is for six-months (or greater) on an shorthold assured tenancy then you will remain liable for council tax until the tenancy period expires.

When a property becomes empty after a shorter, 'rolling' tenancy of less than six months, the landlord becomes liable for council tax for any period that the property becomes no-one’s main residence until the tenancy ends. This is irrespective of whether the tenant has to give a notice period, or indeed handed the keys back.

Further information regarding the Local Government Finance Act 1992 can be obtained from the website.

What happens if I don't pay?

If you fail to pay your instalments by the due date given on your bill, recovery action will commence and you will end up in Magistrates Court if you ignore reminder and final notices.

We apply to the court for a liability order which allows us to:

  • Ask your employer to deduct an amount from your earnings.
  • Use external enforcement agents.
  • Ask the Department for Work and Pensions to make payments direct to us if you're in receipt of income support/jobseekers allowance/employment support allowance

In certain cases we can register outstanding council tax as a charge on your property (like a mortgage).

We can also instigate bankruptcy proceedings.

If you're experiencing difficulty and are struggling to pay your bill, you need to contact us as soon as possible. You should also see our advice and list of organisations who can help you