Who has to pay council tax?

Legislation sets out who must pay council tax. Whoever falls highest on the 'ladder of liability' below is the person liable to pay the council tax. 

Ladder of liability

  1. A person who owns the house they live in (resident freeholder).
  2. A person who has a lease on the house they live in (resident leaseholder).
  3. A person who has a 'statutory or secure' tenancy on the house they live in, usually tenants of housing associations (resident with a statutory or secure tenancy).
  4. A person who has a tenancy agreement with a private landlord on the house they live in (resident with a contractual licence).
  5. A person who is living in a house with no formal legal right to do so, usually grown up children (resident).
  6. A person who has a legal right to occupy a property but does not do so (owner).

What is a resident or owner?

An owner is a person who has an interest in all or part of the property. An interest can be a freehold interest or a leasehold interest. For example:

  • freeholder
  • long leaseholders
  • housing association tenants
  • assured shorthold tenants

A resident is someone 18 years or older who has their sole or main residence at the property.

Can more than one person be liable for council tax?

Everyone who has an equal interest in a property will be held jointly liable. This also applies to married couples and unmarried couples who live together. 

Certain people are exempt from paying council tax. For more information contact our customer services on 01543 308900

There are a few restricted cases where a non-resident owner becomes liable even if there are other residents, usually with a 'house in multiple occupation'.

If you think you have been made liable for a charge you are not responsible for, please contact the customer services on 01543 308900 straightaway.