Who is liable to pay Council Tax?

The liable person is the person who must pay the Council Tax bill. The Local Government Finance Act 1992 sets out the order which is followed when determining who will be the liable person. It is the person at the top of the list, or who comes first, then the next and so on:

  • A resident with a freehold interest in all or part of the dwelling
  • A resident with a leasehold interest in all or part of the dwelling
  • A resident who is a statutory or secure tenant.
  • A resident who is a licensee 
  • A resident who does not fall into the above 4 categories
  • The owner

A ‘resident’ is a person who has reached the age of 18 years of age and has their sole or main residence in the dwelling. Lots of people have only one home and this is therefore their sole residence. Some people own more than one property, but they will live in one particular dwelling, which is their main residence (their home).

Sometimes, more than one person is responsible for paying the Council Tax, for example when two or more people live in the property and jointly own or rent it.

Joint responsibility also applies to a husband, wife or partner of the person who has to pay the bill providing that they all live in the same property, even if they are not joint owners, tenants or leaseholders.

Sometimes landlords have to pay the Council Tax even if tenants occupy the property, for example if the tenants are under the age of 18 or if the house is deemed to be a ‘house of multi-occupation’.

There is only one bill for the property, which will be addressed to one of the people responsible, or all of them if the names are known. Bills cannot be split between joint taxpayers, so for example, if three people live in the property, there will only be one bill, not three.

The amount of Council Tax that the liable person has to pay is calculated on a daily basis. When we calculate how much tax a person has to pay and it is assumed that the situation at the end of the day existed throughout the day. So the day that you become liable for a property is the day that the charge starts.