Council Tax - The Responsible Bill Payer

We define who is responsible for paying the Council Tax at your property and their hierarchy status.

We determine who is responsible for paying the Council Tax by looking at the Hierarchy of Legal Interest at the property concerned.

This is defined in Government regulations and is based on the status of the people living at the property.

The highest person on the hierarchy list will be responsible for paying. If two or more people share this position, they will be jointly responsible.

Resident Freeholder
This includes but not limited to house owners, meaning people who have the legal right over the land on which a property is built as well as the property.

Resident Leaseholder
This includes but not limited to flat owner, meaning people who have the legal right to the property they occupy for the period of the lease, they have from the owner of the property.

Tenant
This includes but not limited to Council House Tenants or Private Tenant Where the owner is not living there.

Person with Contractual Licence to Occupy
This includes but not limited to a lodger

Resident
This includes but not limited to a squatter.

Owner
The owner of the property.

Tenants living in a property with a secure tenancy are liable to pay the Council Tax as Tenants. The owner is not living at the property and therefore lower down in the hierarchy.

The hierarchy of legal interest is not always used to determine who is responsible for paying the Council Tax.

In specified properties the owner will always be responsible for paying even though the owner is at the bottom of the hierarchy.

This occurs in cases where:

  • Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
  • Care Homes including Mental Nursing Homes, Hostels
  • Properties occupied by Religious Communities
  • Properties occupied by Ministers of Religion

Sole or Main Residence

There are no specific guidelines in the legislation that we can use in determining sole or main residence so we must look at previous cases (case law) where individuals have questioned the decision of an authority in respect of this point.

When establishing whether a property is someone’s sole or main residence we consider several factors, including if they consider it to be home.

The possession of all relevant dwellings, if the property is let or empty and the number of addresses attached to one person; including the amount of time spent at each over a specific period.

We include where the person keeps most of their possessions and the ownership of furniture and the address registered for electoral and medical purposes.

The address to which gas, electricity, water bills and notices of tax codes and other official documents are sent.

If the sole or main residence of the person's immediate family and where each member of the household works and children (if any) attend school.

Whether membership of local facilities and if the absence from one property is temporary, and there is a clear intention to return to one particular property.

In most cases the owner of unoccupied properties would be responsible for paying the Council Tax. However in some cases the property may be exempt.

Joint And Several Liability

In some cases there may be more than one person who can be held responsible for paying the Council Tax at a property. This equal responsibility is determined by a number of factors.

We look at whether all the people are on the same level of the Hierarchy of Legal Interest. Plus the relationship of residents and if they are married to each other.

In these cases each person involved has a legal obligation to pay any Council Tax due. We only issue one bill for the whole amount, even if two or more people are responsible.

It is each person’s responsibility to ensure that the amount is paid in full, regardless of individual arrangements within a property.

If one person pays a proportion of the amount due and the other residents pay nothing, we can still pursue all residents for the outstanding amount.

You can ensure all parties responsible for paying Council Tax are on our records by providing us with the relevant details of those jointly liable.

Students can still be held liable as they are a joint tenant with you and have equal responsibility for paying the Council Tax, regardless of their discount disregard.

Joint owners on Income Support are equally liable for the tax. Although you are in receipt of Income Support and probably entitled to a benefit or reduction there will be an amount to pay at the property.

You will have equal responsibility for paying this amount due even though you have already received benefit or reduction for the portion which you may view as clearing your liability.