Council tax - who has to pay?

We work out who has to pay in this order of priority:

1. A freeholder who lives in the property.

2. A leaseholder who lives in the property.

3. A tenant who lives in the property.

4. Someone with a licence to live in the property.

5. Any other person (including squatters).

If nobody lives in the property, the owner must pay council tax.

This means that usually the person who owns and lives in the property or, if the owner doesn’t live in the property, the tenant, must pay council tax.

What if I have more than one property?

You can have one property as your main home, even though your properties may be within the same borough or in different parts of the country. You can get discounts on the other properties but it is up to us to decide which is your main home – you cannot choose.

Who is the owner?

The owner is the freeholder or leaseholder. If the owner does not live in the property, they will only have to pay council tax if nobody else lives in the property.

What if I think I don’t have to pay council tax?

If you don’t think you have to pay council tax, you should contact us first. If you are not happy with our response, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

Joint responsibility for council tax

If you live in a property which is jointly owned, leased or rented by two or more people, you will be jointly responsible for paying council tax. There is only one council tax bill for each property.

In these cases the name of everyone who is jointly responsible will appear on the bill.

If the bill is in joint names, you are all responsible for paying the whole council tax for the property. This applies as much to two owners who live in the property as it does to six squatters.

We cannot split the bill between the joint council tax payers, for example, if there are three joint leaseholders, we cannot issue three bills for a third of the council tax that is due for the property.

Joint responsibility also applies to husbands and wives or partners who live in the same property.

We cannot become involved in any arrangements you may have made with other people who are jointly responsible for paying the bill. If we have to take legal action to get back the council tax you owe, we will contact each of you separately for full payment.

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