Who has to pay Council Tax

We decide who is liable to pay Council Tax at each property in the city. This is a straightforward process because the rules are the same for every council in England and Wales. In most cases the liable person will be the owner occupier or tenant of the property. The liable person is the person whose name is on the bill.

Who is liable to pay?

The following list is used to work out who is liable. The person or people liable are whoever is nearest the top of the table. (A resident is someone aged 18 or over who has their sole or main residence in the dwelling).

Start at number 1:

  1. If there is a resident at the property who is the freeholder (usually called the 'owner occupier'), then they are the liable person. If no-one meets this description, go on to number 2.
  2. If there is a resident at the property who is a leaseholder (for example if you own a flat or if you have a lease on a property), then they are the liable person. If no-one meets this description, go on to number 3.
  3. If there is a resident at the property who is a statutory tenant (for example a council or housing association tenant or a tenant with a written agreement), then they are the liable person. If no-one meets this description, go on to number 4.
  4. If there is a resident at the property who has a licence (a type of tenancy agreement) to occupy the dwelling, then they are the liable person. If no-one meets this description, go on to number 5.
  5. If there is a resident, then they are the liable person. This could be someone living in the property with or without the permission of the owner. If no-one meets this description, go on to number 6
  6. The owner is liable (the dwelling is no-one's sole or main residence). This could apply to second homes, for example. It can also apply where the property is occupied by people who have their main residence elsewhere (for example visiting academics).

Joint and several liability

    Where two or more people are on the same position in the table, they are jointly and severally liable to pay. This means that they do not each pay 'shares' of the bill, but that they are jointly responsible for ensuring that the bill is paid. If the bill or part of it is unpaid, we can pursue one or any number of the liable persons.

    If a liable person has a spouse who also lives at the property, then that person is also jointly and severally liable. A spouse means a husband or a wife or someone who lives with the liable person as husband and wife.

    Sometimes a student or a severely mentally impaired person is not liable to pay the Council Tax. 

    Sharing a property

    If you share a property with other people, the person who is liable to pay the Council Tax will depend on the type of tenancy agreement that you have.

    Joint tenancy agreement

    If you have signed a joint tenancy agreement, then the person/s named on the agreement, who have their sole or main residence at the property, will be the ones liable to pay. They will be jointly and severally liable. Visit our Council Tax Payment page for more information on Joint and Several Liability.

    Individual tenancy agreement

    If the tenants in the property have individual agreements with the landlord, then the landlord is liable to pay the Council Tax.

    Owner's liability

    There are some circumstances where the owner is always liable to pay. The owner means the freeholder or anyone who has a lease or tenancy of six months or more.

    This applies to:

    • residential care homes.
    • dwellings inhabited by religious communities.
    • houses in multiple occupation (for example houses/flats where each tenant pays rent for their room or part of the property, this is not the same as a house in multiple occupation as defined by Housing regulations).
    • some properties with resident staff.
    • dwellings inhabited by a minister of religion from which he performs his duties.
    • dwellings provided to asylum seekers.