Who pays council tax

There is only one council tax bill for each dwelling. Usually, the occupier must pay the bill. The liable person is whoever comes first in the list below:

  • the person who owns and lives in the dwelling
  • a tenant living in the dwelling (including council tenants)
  • a person who is not the owner or tenant but lives in the dwelling
  • the owner, if nobody lives in the dwelling – this includes tenants who have a tenancy of 6 months or more, for any period of the tenancy that still remains after moving out

The owner is liable for the council tax if the dwelling is:

  • occupied by asylum seekers receiving accommodation under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • a residential home for the elderly or ill people, including accommodation provided under section 18 or 19 of the Care Act 2014 
  • a nursing home
  • a hostel
  • the home of a religious community
  • a home in which domestic staff live and which is occasionally used by the employer
  • the home of a minister of religion who receives a stipend
  • house in multiple occupation

For council tax purposes, a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a dwelling which is divided into bedsitting rooms.

(The definition of a HMO for council tax purposes differs from that contained in the Housing Act 2004 relating to the need to obtain a HMO licence in certain cases.)

Please note, in some circumstances a building that is let out as separate bedsits is not assessed as a single dwelling. Instead, the Valuation Office Agency treats the separately let rooms as individual council tax assessments, each with their own band. The building is not a HMO for the purposes of council tax. The occupiers of the rooms are liable for the council tax, not the owner of the building. More information on the banding of houses in multiple occupation