Who pays council tax

There is only one council tax bill for each property. Usually, the person who lives in a property will have to pay the bill. The person who has to pay is usually:

  • the person who owns and lives in the property
  • a tenant (including council tenants)
  • a person who is not the owner or tenant but lives in the property
  • the owner - freeholder, leaseholder or a tenant with a tenancy of six months or more

There are times when the owner will have to pay instead of the resident:

  • occupied by asylum seekers receiving support from the Home Office
  • a residential home for the elderly or ill people
  • 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 lives and works there
  • house in multiple occupation

For council tax purposes, a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property which is divided into bedsitting rooms. This differs from the definition for HMO licensing purposes.

From 1 December 2023

All HMOs will be valued as a single property (aggregated) for council tax and this will apply to both licensed and unlicensed HMOs.

This means that rooms in HMOs will no longer have their own band. 

Learn more about the HMO change on GOV.UK

There may be some circumstances when a building that is let out as separate bedsits is not assessed as a single dwelling. Instead, the Valuation Office Agency may decide that for separately let rooms they are 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

Guidance on HMOs

Further information

Common questions and extra information regarding challenges to the legality of council tax.