Who pays council tax

A council tax bill will be sent to the person who appears first on this list:

  • Resident freeholder e.g. an owner occupier.
  • Resident leaseholder e.g. an owner occupier who is paying a ground rent.
  • Resident statutory or secure tenant e.g. a council or private tenant.
  • Resident licensee e.g. the landlord of a public house who lives on the premises.
  • Other resident e.g. a squatter.
  • Non-resident owner.

Husbands and wives, partners and joint owners are jointly liable to pay council tax. The bill will show all the names, although only one bill will be sent.

Tenants in shared housing

If you share a property with other people, the person who should pay council tax will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have.

If you have signed a joint tenancy agreement, then the person or people named on the agreement, who have their sole or main residence at the property, will be liable to pay. They will be jointly and severally liable.

If you and the other people at the property have individual tenancy agreements with the landlord or the property has been adapted making it suitable for multiple occupation, then the property is a 'house in multiple occupation' (HMO) and the landlord is liable to pay council tax.

You should tell us you are moving as soon as possible to avoid paying the wrong council tax.

Landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a house or flat that was originally built or has been changed for living in by one or more people who are not part of the same household. One example of a change, is where the rooms have individual locks on the doors. Examples of HMOs include bedsits, homes shared by people who aren't related to each other, halls of residence and hostels.

If each person who lives there pays rent separately or has an agreement that only lets them occupy a part of the property, we will class the property as a house in multiple occupation. The term “part only” can relate to a room or rooms used or reserved by the owner making them unavailable to the tenant in occupation. The amount of rent a tenant pays will also help us in deciding if the property should be a HMO.

Landlords of HMOs must pay the bill

Council tax law states the landlord, not the occupiers, must pay the council tax bill. The rent charged to the occupier can include an amount towards the council tax. The amount included is a private matter between the landlord and the occupier and doesn't involve us. The bill must stay in the landlord's name: it cannot be given to the occupiers to pay. 


Council tax appeals

You can appeal directly to us if you disagree with any decision relating to liability, discounts, reductions for disabilities, or exemptions if you are:

  • the person liable to pay the council tax for the dwelling
  • the person who would be liable if the dwelling were not exempt
  • the owner of the dwelling

Appeals can't be made on the amount that has been set for the council tax or on grounds of inability to pay.

A person making an appeal is legally obliged to pay the bill as it stands pending the outcome of the appeal.

Contact us

Revenue Services (Council tax)