Who has to pay Council Tax?

Normally people who live in a property as their main home and are over 18 must pay the Council Tax for that property.

If more than one person lives in a property the person who appears first on the list below will be required to pay the Council Tax. This is referred to as the "hierarchy of liability". 

If two people appear at the same point of the hierarchy they have a joint responsibility to pay. If no one lives in the property then the owner has to pay the Council Tax.

Hierarchy of liability

  1. A resident who owns the freehold
  2. A resident who owns a leasehold
  3. A resident who is an assured, statutory or secure tenant
  4. A resident has a license to occupy the property
  5. Any other resident 
  6. The owner if no one lives in the property

Owner Liabilities

In certain circumstances the owner, rather than the residents, is always responsible for payment:

  • Houses in multiple occupation - properties occupied by residents who do not form a single household and have separate licences/tenancies to pay rent for the part of the property they occupy.
  • Residential care, nursing or mental nursing homes, or hostels which provide care.
  • Homes occupied by Religious communities.
  • Homes which are occasionally occupied by the owner and whose domestic staff are also resident.
  • Properties occupied by ministers of religion where they perform the duties of their office.
  • Properties provided to asylum seekers.

Joint liability

Two or more people may have to pay Council Tax for a property. The circumstances when this occurs are:

  • People at the same position in the hierarchy of liability e.g. joint tenants
  • Married couples, civil partners or people who live together as a married couple or as civil partners.

Discounts and exemptions

There are several reasons why you might qualify for a discount or exemption on your Council Tax bill.

See discounts and exemptions