Council Tax liability

Scam alert

We have received reports of residents being sent bogus text messages offering a Council Tax refund if they follow a link to a web address. Find out more

To establish who is liable for the payment of Council Tax, there is a set 'hierarchy'.

Look down the list below and as soon as you reach a description that applies to a person in your home, they will be the person liable for the Council Tax.

  • A resident freeholder (so for owner-occupied property the owner is liable)
  • A resident leaseholder (this includes assured tenants under the housing act 1988)
  • A resident statutory or secure tenant
  • A resident licensee
  • A resident
  • The owner (this applies where the dwelling has no residents)

resident is a person of 18 years or over and lives in the dwelling as their only or main home. 

Owner sole liability

In some cases it is the owner, not the residents, who has to pay the Council Tax.

If the owner lives in the same property as their tenant (a lodger for example), only the owner would be made liable for Council Tax.  

Other cases where the owner is liable:

  • Residential care homes, nursing homes, mental nursing homes or certain types of hostel providing a high level of care.
  • Religious communities such as monasteries or convents.
  • A dwelling which is not the owner's main home, but which is the main home of someone whom the owner employs in domestic service.
  • Vicarages and other dwellings where a minister of religion lives and works. (Where the owner-occupier is a Church of England minister of religion, the Church is responsible for the bill.)
  • Dwellings occupied only by asylum seekers.

Shared occupation

Houses in multiple occupation

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO's) are dwellings that are occupied by more than one household, where residents pay rent separately for separate parts of the property. An example of such cases would be hostels and groups of bedsits.

If the Council feels that the parts of the property that are subject to separate tenancy agreements are capable of separate beneficial occupation, an application may be made to the Listing Officer to have each part of the property separately banded.

Joint and several liability

In certain cases, more than one person may be jointly liable for Council Tax in respect of a property. This applies to the following:

  • Persons with the same interest in the property, according to the hierarchy of liability as shown above.
  • Residents who are married to each other, or who live together as husband and wife, or are civil partners (under the Civil Partnership act 2004).
  • Residents or owners liable for pitches occupied by caravans and moorings occupied by boats.
  • Joint owners liable, rather than residents as detailed above.

If more than one person is jointly liable for Council Tax, we can undertake recovery action against any or all of the persons named on the demand.

Civil Partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 introduces the right, from 5 December 2005, for same sex couples to register a 'Civil Partnership'.

The Civil Partnership Act enables same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship by forming a civil partnership and makes provision for civil partners to be treated in the same way as married couples in relation to certain obligations and benefits.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 has amended Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 so it states:

Where a person who is liable to pay Council Tax in respect of any property, of which he/she is resident and is married to, or is the civil partner of another person, and the other person is also a resident of the property but would not otherwise be liable.

Disagreeing with liability decisions

If you dispute that you are the person liable for the payment of Council Tax, you should initially make your appeal in writing to the council, giving as much evidence to support your claim as possible.

Further details of this procedure will be provided by the council if your first appeal is rejected.

You should continue to pay your original bill whilst your appeal is outstanding.