Council Tax is a mandatory tax for residential property and is due upon adults who may own or rent out their homes. It is an annual tax collected by local councils for the community-based services that they provide. 

To make payments convenient for residents, the annual bill is split across 10 monthly instalments that are to be paid between April and January; with February and March being relief months for residents.

According to a report released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Collection rates for Council Tax local authorities collected £ 32.2 billion in council tax during 2020-2021. This is an increase of £0.6 billion or 1.9 per cent in comparison to the previous year. 

What Happens To Council Tax If My Address Changes?

There are different answers to this, depending upon the circumstances. While we will analyse each specific situation in detail, as a general rule, it is advisable to inform your local council office of a change in address 21 days in advance; even if this change of address is going to be temporary. If you have not been able to do that and have already moved into another place, you must inform them immediately.

The main reason for this is that as a result of the change in address, you may be eligible for a lower or higher council tax band. If you do not inform your local council of your change in residence, your council tax may be billed incorrectly. The other reason is that you must clear your council tax dues prior to a change of address so that you do not have to face the dire consequences of council tax arrears such as court summons and magistrate visits.

Once you inform the council office of your change in address, it takes them around 20 days to process a new council tax bill, depending upon any major changes such as change of valuation band for your house or change of council district or the addition/subtraction of council tax benefits if there is a change in your personal circumstances as well along with a change in address.

If you were claiming benefits prior to the change in address, you will also be required to inform the benefits team of your local council.

We will now analyse the two main situations under change of address:

Situation 1: You are new to a council district and this is the first time that you are applying for council tax 

You must contact your previous council office that you have left the premises and inform them of your new address so that if there were any dues or advance payments, those may be adjusted to your account. You must inform the council office in the area where you have moved so that they may start sending you council tax bills as per schedule. In case of a delay in informing either of them, outstanding dues may start to gather and you might end up paying large amounts in lump sum.

If you were on Housing Benefit or were claiming a discount on your council tax bills due to personal circumstances, you must inform the new council authorities of these details. 

Simultaneously, you must also inform your bank of your change in address in case (a) you were making council tax payments through Direct Debit and (b) have now moved to another council district and would be required to make payments to another account than before.

Situation 2: You have changed your address but you are within the same council district as before

You need to inform your local council office of the change in address so that future bills are sent to yo new home. In case this change of address brings with it a change in your personal situation or the valuation band is different for your new home, you may experience a change in the amount of council tax bill that you were paying earlier.

For instance, if you were a single occupant and have moved in with a partner you will lose your single occupancy discount. Similarly, if your previous residence was classed at a lower valuation band such as B or a C and you have moved to a property with a higher market value and an elevated valuation band such as D or E, it will impact the amount of council tax bills that are due upon you.  

In most cases, all that you have to do is fill an online form on your council’s website and share relevant supportive evidence with the authorities. Supportive evidence may include the following:

  • Applicant’s personal contact details
  • Applicant’s council tax reference number
  • Applicant’s bank details
  • Landlord’s or agent’s details (in case you are a tenant)
  • Joint tenant’s details (in case you will be sharing the new premises with someone else)
  • Solicitor’s and joint owner’s details (in case you are the owner)
  • Details of any benefits or council tax discounts claimed previously
  • Details of the property that you are leaving
  • Details of the property that you are moving into 

To learn more about council tax bills, we will try to answer these questions:

  • When Should I Contact Council Office?
  • Can I Move To A New House With Council Tax Arrears?
  • Why Do I Have To Pay Council Tax?
  • Who Has To Pay Council Tax?
  • Do You Have To Pay Council Tax Every Month?

When Should I Contact Council Office?

Council offices are just a phone call /email away. You should contact your local authorities in case of any of the following situations:

  • If you are moving into a new house
  • If you are changing the name or address of your property
  • If you are planning to or have demolished uninhabitable property
  • If you are planning to or have divided your property into flats
  • If you are merging a number of flats into a single house
  • If you are converting your house into multiple occupation premises
  • If you are adding an annexe to your property

Other than this if you have any other matter related to council authorities such as inability to pay the council tax bill, incorrect billing, questions about their services, you may Find your local council here.

Can I Move To A New House With Council Tax Arrears?

Yes, there is no legal restriction on a council tax debtor to move to new premises with arrears due towards their previous council. 

However, the debt will still remain in their name and will not be transferred to the new owners or tenants. This means that if you have council tax arrears and you move to a new house, you will not only be paying council tax for the new property but will also be obliged to clear your dues concerning the previous premises as well.

The best way to proceed in such a situation would be to inform your local council of your intention to move and work out a mutually agreed payment plan so that after your move to the new premises, the number of your tax bills due do not inflate. 

You can search for your local council’s website by typing your postal code in this weblink Find your local council

Why Do I Have To Pay Council Tax?

Council tax is a mandatory tax applicable upon residents of properties in England, Scotland and Wales. The amount of tax charged depends upon the value of one’s property as per qualifications assigned by the Valuations Office Agency (VOA). 

Council tax is paid to local council offices to enable them to provide community-based services that improve the overall quality of life for residents. It pays for services including the following:

  • Fire protection and police
  • Roads and street lights
  • Garbage collection and recycling
  • Schools and community halls
  • Parks and recreational centres
  • Elderly care 

Who Has To Pay Council Tax?

Anyone who is above 18 years of age and rents or owns property in England, Scotland or Wales is eligible for council tax payments. However, under the following conditions, the council tax bill becomes due upon the owner of the property and not the individual(s) occupying it:  

  • If the premises are vacant and is considered as an empty home 
  • If the premises are not being used as a residential property but as a nursing home 
  • Premises occupied by religious communities 
  • Premises with multiple occupants with individual rooms being rented out 
  • Premises serves as the residence of staff who live in houses occupied by an employer 
  • Premises that are residences of ministers of religion

In case there are multiple members of a household, an “order of liability” ascertains the responsibility for paying council tax. It usually follows the below hierarchy: 

  • The resident who is the freeholder of all or part of the property 
  • The resident who is the leaseholder of all or part of the property 
  • The resident tenant 
  • The resident who is not a tenant but has permission to live in the property 
  • The resident occupying the property 
  • A mortgagee who is in possession of an owner’s interest 
  • The property owner when it is unoccupied

Do You Have To Pay Council Tax Every Month?

Yes, council tax bills are paid through monthly instalments that range between the months of April to January.

Council tax is based upon the valuation band that a property is categorized under by the local council and Valuation Office Agency. While the local council may assign an annual bill in April, the annual tax is spread over 10 monthly instalments to make payments convenient for individuals as well as to account for any desirable changes such as inflation rates. To learn more about council tax bands, here is a link to the UK government’s website Check your Council Tax band

If an individual is unable to afford their monthly council tax instalment or would require a relief, they may request to have the annual bill be spread over 12 monthly instalments versus the usual 10 instalments. This reduces the per month average due to which the due amount is decreased.  

In terms of mode of payment, local councils may accept weekly or fortnightly payments as well. Generally, a discount may be availed if the payee chooses to pay the entire annual tax bill in advance.

Conclusion:

Change of address is an important piece of information to be shared with council authorities by residents as a change in address may bear a significant impact on their council tax bills; especially if the change in address comes with a change in personal circumstances.

In case a change of address comes with a change in council district, residents must assure that (a) there are no tax arrears from their previous address as (they will still be chased for payments despite a change in address) and (b) and benefits or council tax discounts that they were previously claiming are brought to the notice of their new council office. 

FAQs: What Happens To Council Tax If My Address Changes?

Do I have to tell the council my new address?

Yes, you must inform your council office of your new address so that if there are any council tax dues, they may be cleared or if you’ve made advance payments to your annual council tax bill, those may be adjusted. This is even more important in case you are moving into a new council district.

What do I do about council tax when I move house?

You must clear your council tax dues at the previous house and inform them of your new address. If you are moving into a different council district, inform the local authorities there,  of your new address so that they may start sending you council tax bills on schedule. If there is a delay in communication, you may have to pay accumulated dues on your council tax bills at both ends.

How do you change your council tax when you move?

You must inform your local council office at least 21 days prior to the move. If you haven’t been able to do so, you must inform them on an immediate basis. You can contact them through a phone call or email or you may click on the “change of address” page on your local council’s website where you can inform them. While you can inform local authorities of a change in address, a change in council tax will depend upon their assessment of whether there is a change to the valuation band assigned to your property or not.

Should I inform HMRC of a change of address?

Yes, you must inform HMRC of a change in personal circumstances including a change of residential address.

Can you pay council tax on 2 properties?

Yes, you can pay council tax on properties. The property where you spend the majority of your time (more than six months in a year) will become your main residence with a full council tax due (unless you live alone or are the only adult in the house) and the other property where you spend relatively lesser time in a year, will be considered as a second home or a holiday home. Generally, there is a council tax discount applicable on such properties.

References:

Council Tax change of address

Change your details

Change of circumstances that may affect your Council Tax bill

Collection rates of Council Tax

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?