Who is responsible for paying Council Tax on a property?

Council Tax is a local tax that applies to a residential property. For that property, you’ll usually have one person aged 18 years or over that is responsible or ‘liable’ for that account, such as paying the bill or notifying us of any changes. Spouses and partners who live together are jointly responsible for paying the bill. 

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

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. An owner of the property where no one is living

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, but sometimes it will be owner of the property who will be liable if any of the following conditions apply:

  • The property is in multiple occupation (HMO), for example, a house shared by a number of different households who all pay rent separately
  • The people who live in the property are all under 18 years old
  • 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. However, while all properties have to register for Council Tax, 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.

Remember: While the property may be exempt from paying the full amount, you still need to register for Council Tax for that property so we are aware who is living there. Once you have registered, you can then apply for any discounts or exemptions you are eligible for.