Who is responsible for paying Council Tax on a property?

Council Tax is a local tax that applies to residential properties. Within the property there is usually one person aged 18 or over who is responsible or ‘liable’ for paying the bill or telling us about changes. Spouses and partners who live together are jointly responsible for the bill.

If more than one person lives in the property, a system called the ‘hierarchy of liability’ is used to work out the liable person.

Important: You must register your property for Council Tax even if you think you will be exempt from paying. We can apply any discounts or exemptions after you register.

The hierarchy of liability is

  1. An owner / occupier living in the property who owns the leasehold or freehold of all / part of the property
  2. A tenant living in the property
  3. A person(s) who lives in the property and who is a licensee. This means that they are not a tenant, but have permission to stay there
  4. Any person(s) living in the property, for example, a squatter
  5. The owner of an empty property

The person nearest to the top of the list is the ‘liable person’. Two or more people at the same point of the hierarchy will equally be liable. Usually, the person living in the property will be the liable person.

The owner of the property is liable if any of the following conditions apply

  • The property is in multiple occupation (HMO), for example, a house shared by several different households who all pay rent separately
  • The people who live in the property are all under 18
  • The property is accommodation for asylum seekers
  • The people who are staying in the property are there temporarily and have their main homes somewhere else
  • The property is a care home, hospital, hostel, or women's refuge

If you are a landlord renting out a property, the responsibility for paying the Council Tax bill depends on what sort of letting arrangement you have.

Find out about letting arrangements.

Who counts towards the amount to pay?

Council Tax assumes there are at least two adults (18 years old or over) living in the property.

You must register for Council Tax, but you might not have to pay the full amount if you or others are on the exemption list.

If you’re the only adult who lives in the property or if the other person(s) living in the property are on the exemption list, you can apply for a Single Person discount and get 25 per cent off your bill.

If everyone in the property is on the exemption list (e.g. full-time students), then you won’t have to pay Council Tax for that property.

If the property is unoccupied, you may be eligible for a discount in certain circumstances. Find out about discounts for empty properties.


Why am I liable to pay the Council Tax bill? SHOW

Who pays the Council Tax on a rented property? SHOW

How do I change the names or details of 'liable' person(s) on the account? SHOW