Guide to Liability for Council Tax
Each unit of accommodation which has its own separate banding for Council Tax purposes will be charged with the amount of Council Tax payable each year depending on the appropriate banding. The Council Tax Liability lies with the person who is the bill payer, who will then pay the Council Tax to the local authority concerned. The purpose of this Guide is to explain who the bill payer is. The Guide sets out the normal rules and then, separately, special rules which apply to "houses in multiple occupation". The unit of accommodation on which Council Tax is charged could be a house (or bungalow), flat or a bedsit (or flatlet) which has its own separate banding. Some bedsit houses but not all, which incorporate a number of separate bedsits, may be banded as one unit, with a single banding.
The normal rules
There is a table (or hierarchy of liability) which sets out who is responsible. It is the first person in this list. You go down the list until you come across the first person on this list is for the property in question. The table is as follows:-
- The resident who is the freeholder (of whole or part).
- The resident who is a leaseholder (including an assured shorthold tenancy) where the tenancy relates to the whole or any part of the building - so long as the tenancy is not shorter in length than another tenancy held by another resident.
- A resident who is a Rent Act statutory tenant of the whole or any part of the dwelling.
- A resident with a contractual licence to occupy the whole or any part of the dwelling.
- Any other resident (this includes a squatter).
- A non resident "owner"
For these purposes the "owner" is firstly anyone who has the shortest lease which has been granted for a term of at least six months relating to the whole or any part of the dwelling. Otherwise, if there is no such person, the freeholder is the "owner".
For these purposes to be a "resident" the person must be aged 18 or over and wholly or mainly resident. This means that a potentially liable person has more than one home the local authority must decide which is his/her main residence.
If two or more people fall within a category for liability (e.g. a joint owner or joint tenants) they are normally jointly and severally liable.
Additionally, the liable person's partner is jointly liable if he or she is a resident of the dwelling and either married to or in a civil partnership with the liable person and they are living together. This applies whether or not the partner has an interest in the property, i.e. it does not matter that the partner is not a tenant.
It should be noted, however, that in certain circumstances this list does not apply but, instead, the "owner" is liable. In private rented sector the main situation where this occurs is where the property is a "house in multiple occupation" - see further below.
Where a property is vacant and there is no tenancy in existence, then the Council Tax Liability falls with the landlord, who, as owner will be responsible for paying the Council Tax during the "void" period - see below
The rest of this guide to Council Tax Liability contains a wide range of information including making a tenant liable, Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), empty properties and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Please sign in to access the whole guide. Alternatively if you're not already a guest member, you can join today for free!
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