Council tax - who has to pay
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You’ll usually have to pay council tax if you’re 18 or over and own or rent a home.
In some cases, though, it is the property owner who is responsible, not the people who live there.
- The homes of religious communities and ministers, domestic servants and asylum seekers
- Residential care homes, nursing homes and some hostels
- Homes occupied by more than one household, and the residents pay rent separately for different parts of the property, or specially-built or altered so that people of different households can live in them
To find out more about who has to pay, visit the GOV.UK website.
For council tax purposes, you're considered to live at your “sole or main residence.”
If you only have one home, there's no problem. But some situations are more complicated, such as people who have use of more than one residence, or work away from home, or take extended holidays. Even if you spend a long time away from your usual home, we usually treat it as your main residence.
We normally consider couples to have one main home, even if both own or rent different properties.
If a single property contains more than one self-contained unit, each one is treated as a separate home for council tax purposes. The decision on whether or not to assess a property for council tax purposes is made by the Valuation Office Agency, not the council.
These units may not have to pay if:
- They're unoccupied and form part of another dwelling, or are in the grounds of another dwelling which can't be let separately without a breach of planning control.
- They're occupied by either an elderly, severely mentally impaired or disabled family member, as long as they live in the other part of the property.
A 50% council tax reduction, on top of any other discount, applies if:
- The annexe forms part of a single property, which includes at least one other dwelling, and is being used by a resident of that other dwelling, or is the sole or main residence of a relative of the person who's liable to pay council tax for that other dwelling.
Homes that are empty will be charged a full council tax from the day they become empty.
We charge an “empty homes premium” for long-term empty properties. Homes that have been unoccupied and largely unfurnished for more than two years will become subject to the following premiums:
With effect from 1 April 2021 long term empty properties will become subject to the following premiums:
- an additional 100% for properties that have been empty for longer than two years but less than five years
- an additional 200% for properties that have been empty for longer than five years but less than ten years
- an additional 300% for those that have been empty for over ten years.
Owners of private furnished holiday, or second, homes, have to pay the full council tax charge.
If a property is used commercially for 140 days or more, the owner has to pay business rates, rather than council tax.
'Commercially' is understood to mean with a view to making a profit. This would require that the property is let at market rates and actively advertised in the usual places, such as tourism and hospitality company websites.
For further details visit our self-catering accommodation page.
Bed and breakfast accommodation
If someone offers bed and breakfast accommodation in their own home to up to six people at any one time, they won't have to pay business rates. They will, however, have to pay council tax on the whole property.
If catering for more than six people at any one time, they'll have to pay business rates on that part of the property and council tax on the rest.
For more information about business rates, visit our business rates pages.
Check to see if you are eligible for a discount on your council tax if you are a full time student. If you think you shouldn't be paying council tax, contact our local taxation team for an application form and they'll help you complete it.
Tell us if your circumstances change
When it comes to being liable to pay council tax, if your circumstances change you must tell us.