Join the Residential Landlords Association
Coronavirus Special Notice

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:-

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!

Members and Guests Only

Login to access this guide.

Log into your RLA Account

Join the RLA

Get full access to over 130 Documents and Guides

Enter as a Guest

Get reduced access to some Documents and Guides.

Landlord & Investment Show London Olympia 2019
99 Homes
John Pye Auctions

Help us improve this page - rate how helpful you found it:

Thank you for your feedback. How could we make the page more helpful?

Thank you for your feedback.