What is council tax ?
Council tax is a locally set tax, which is payable for each domestic or residential property. If you’re living on rent, there is council tax payable for the property you live in.
Council tax is comprised of a number of charges for Local Council, Local Fire and Local Police services. These three institutions calculate the amount of funding they need to operate and service the areas which they are responsible for.
The government also calculates how much funding they are going to release for this particular council.
The difference is made up of Council Tax on each residential property that falls into the particular council.
How much is your local tax ?
The exact Council Tax is calculated based on the property’s value. The values are separated into bands form A to H (A to I in Wales) which have a set amount of tax payable each year.
Each local council has their own prices for each band.
Below is an example from Cheshire East Council, who calculate their council tax like so:
|Total Council Tax Payable
Excluding Parish Charge 2016-17
|A||£40,000 or less||£996.70|
|B||£40,001 to £52,000||£1,162.80|
|C||£52,001 to £68,000||£1,328.93|
|D||£68,001 to £88,000||£1,495.04|
|E||£88,001 to £120,000||£1,827.28|
|F||£120,001 to £160,000||£2,159.50|
|G||£160,001 to £320,000||£2,491.74|
|H||£320,001 and over||£2,990.08|
My Council Tax is a useful tool that calculates an estimation of your council tax, by just inserting your post code.
Additionally, you can see what band your property belongs to using Valuation Office Agency.
Keep in mind that band segregation is calculated using a mass valuation from 1991 in England and 2003 in Wales. If you’re property has seen improvement or any form of value change, you can dispute your band according to the current state of the property.
To find your local council you can use the government website – here. You will find more information on council tax in your local council website.
Because it’s often too large a sum to pay all at once, councils allow people to pay the council tax at installments. Usually, it’s paid at 10 installments, but based on your financial situation, you may ask to pay in 12 installments. There is no interest if you pay in installments, but some local council may offer a discount if you pay all at once in the beginning of the year.
Falling in arrears
When you miss a payment to your council tax, you will be issued with a reminder and given 7 days to pay your installment. If you miss that deadline, you will lose the right to pay in installments and the remaining of your annual council tax will become payable instantly.
If you fail to pay your council tax, the local council may deduct it from your benefits if you receive any, impound your wages or even have bailiffs confiscate your goods for the amount owed.
Who pays council tax ?
Council tax is typically paid by the person who occupies the property. If you live alone, you’re the liable person to pay council tax. For properties occupied by more than one person, there is a hierarchical tree to figure out who needs to pay the council tax.
- A resident owner-occupier who owns either the leasehold or freehold of all or part of the property
- A resident tenant
- A resident who lives in the property and who is a licensee. This means that they are not a tenant, but have permission to stay there
- Any resident living in the property, for example, a squatter
- An owner of the property where no one is resident.
The person highest in the list is liable to pay council tax, if there is more than one, they are jointly responsible.
- You live alone with a one bedroom apartment – you’re liable to pay council tax for the property
- You live with your girlfriend / boyfriend – you’re both liable to pay council tax for the property
- The landlord has an empty property listed for renting – they pay council tax for while they wait for a tenant to move in
When the landlord is responsible for council tax
In some cases, the owner of the property / landlord is liable to pay council tax. Those are special circumstances, when the tenants or residents are exempt from paying.
- The property is an HMO ( house in multiple occupation ), where multiple tenants rent their own private rooms, but share communal areas like the kitchen and bathroom. However, council tax is probably calculated into the rent payments.
- The occupant / occupants are under 18
- The occupants are asylum seekers
- The occupants are staying temporarily and have another home somewhere else. For example if an emergency has occurred in your rental property, rendering it uninhabitable until repairs are made and you’re transferred into a temporary home by your landlord.
- The property is a care home, hospital or refuge of some kind.
If your living conditions are any of the above, you are not liable to pay council tax. It must be paid by the property owner, but it’s price may in some occasions be proportionally calculated into the cost of your accommodation.
Are there discounts to your council tax ?
Yes. Council tax is discounted based on how many adults live inside the property. Some people are exempt and not counted as adults (more below).
- There is 25% reduction in council tax if there is only one adult in the property you live in. (If you live alone, there is still 25% reduction.)
- There is 50% reduction in council tax if there are no adults in the property you live in.
- There is 100% reduction in council tax if all occupants of the property are full-time students.
You don’t count as an adult if are:
- Younger than 18 years old
- 18 years old, but somebody is entitled to Child Benefit for you
- Under 20 years old and have attended school or college, but have left after 30 April. You will not count as adult until the 1st of November the same year.
- Full-time student on a qualifying course of education (including correspondence or on-line courses); student nurses; Foreign Language Assistants on the official British Council programme.
- Under 25 years old and get funding from the Skills Funding Agency or Young People’s Learning Agency
- Under 25 years old and following some kinds of apprenticeship
- A prisoner or in detention waiting for deportation
- Living in a bail or probation hostel
- Person under mental health legislation
- ‘Severely mentally impaired’
- A long-term hospital patient
- Resident of a care-home
- Living in a hostel which provides treatment and care to senior citizens, physically or mentally disabled people, past or current addict, past or current mental illness
- A live-in care worker, who is not family to the person cared for
- A spouse, civil partner or a dependent of a student AND you are a non-British Citizen AND under immigration rules, are not allowed to work in the UK or claim any form of benefit
- Staying in a hostel or night shelter, like a Salvation Army or Church Army hostel
- A member of a religious community
- A member of a visiting armed force. Your dependants are also disregarded.
If you are any of the above listed, you’re not counted as an adult for the household you live in. If nobody is counted as an adult, the household is discounted 50% of the according council tax.
You are not exempt from council tax, unless everybody in the household is a full time student.
When your local council send you the council tax bill, any discounts applied (which may be applied automatically) will be clearly outlined. If you believe you’re entitled to a discount, you must contact the local council and apply for a discount as soon as possible.
If there is a discount, but you believe you are not eligible for one, you must also contact the local council and inform them of the error. If you don’t register the error in 21 days and the council discovers you have not been eligible for a discount, but got one anyway, you may be served a fine.
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.
For more ways to reach us, please visit our contacts page.