Who is liable for Council Tax?

People are responsible for paying for paying Council Tax in the following order:

  1. a resident freeholder (so, for owner-occupied property, the owner is liable) 
  2. a resident leaseholder (this includes assured tenants under the Housing Act 1988) 
  3. a resident statutory or secure tenant 
  4. a resident licensee 
  5. a resident 
  6. the owner (this applies where the dwelling has no residents)

This means that owner occupiers or tenants are usually responsible for the Council Tax bill.

If the property is empty, not anyone’s main home or the people there are under 18 the owner is responsible.

In most cases tenants will not be liable for Council Tax if they live with their landlord in the same property.

Joint and Several Liability

More than one person can be liable for Council Tax if they all fall into the same level on the list above and no-one else is higher on the list in relation to the property. This is known as "joint and several liability”

Married couples, or people living together as a couple, will normally be jointly and severally liable whilst they live in the same property.

If you are jointly and severally liable:

  • We will send one bill with the names of all the liable people on it 
  • Each of the people named on the bill will be equally responsible for the whole of the charge 
  • The bill cannot be broken down into individual shares 
  • If the bill is not paid we will seek to take recovery action from any liable person

Liability for owners

The owner of a property is usually liable for the Council Tax when the property is unoccupied.

There may be discounts available for empty properties or for other circumstances.

Properties left unoccupied and unfurnished for two years may be subject to a premium meaning they will have to pay an additional 50% of the Council Tax charge.

Find out more about empty homes.

There are some circumstances where the property owner is liable even when the property is occupied:

  • Properties inhabited by ministers of religion 
  • Properties occupied by asylum seekers 
  • Houses in multiple occupation* 
  • Care homes, independent hospitals and hostels 
  • Properties inhabited by religious communities 
  • Properties occupied by resident domestic staff

*a house in multiple occupation (for council tax purposes) is a property built or adapted for use by people who are not a single household or a property where people rent a room and share other facilities or when an occupier does not have the use of the whole property.

Please contact us if you need further information or clarification.

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