Who is liable for council tax?

To work out who has to pay for your home (or dwelling), look at the list below. As soon as you reach a description that applies to someone in your home, that is the person or persons responsible for the bill (the "liable person"):

  • a resident freeholder (for an owner-occupied property, the owner);
  • a resident leaseholder (this includes assured tenants under the Housing Act 1988);
  • a resident statutory or secure tenant;
  • a resident licensee;
  • a resident;
  • the owner (this applies where the dwelling has no residents).

A resident is a person 18 years of age or over who lives in the dwelling as their only or main residence.

There can be more than one liable person in a property. People who are joint owners or joint tenants are liable for paying Council Tax for the dwelling. That is to say, both parties are individually responsible for the whole bill. This is an important point to remember because the law does not distinguish between the liable people. In the case of properties occupied by many people (known as a house of multiple occupation), such as those split into bedsits, the owner is liable.

Joint and Several Liability

There can be more than one liable person. People who are joint owners or joint tenants are liable for the one Council Tax bill for the dwelling.

Husbands and wives of liable people are also jointly responsible for paying the bill. This also applies to a man and woman living together as husband and wife. Special rules apply where one of the liable people has a chronic mental health condition. See Joint and Several Liability for further information.

Last updated: Wednesday, 24 April, 2024.