This blog will answer the question “Do tenants pay council tax in Scotland?” It will cover the rules in Scotland as to when the tenants pay the council tax and when the landlords. It will further cover various topics such as tenant’s and landlord’s responsibilities, tenacy agreement etc.

Do tenants pay council tax in scotland

Yes, tenants pay council tax in Scotland on the property they are residing in. A tenant is someone who occupies a room or whole property and pays rent to the landlord. This council tax might or might not be included in your rent. You need to check the rent agreement to be sure of the correct details.

When you are exempt from paying council tax

You are exempt from paying council tax in Scotland if the following conditions satisfy:

Renting from a housing association

If you are a tenant renting a trial flat from some housing association because you are disabled or you are a pensioner, you will be exempt from paying council tax.

If you are a student

For full-time students council tax is not included in rent. They are exempt from paying council tax. Whether they live in university halls of residence or rent a house, they do not have to pay council tax. Part-time students, however, do have to pay it.

Conditions for persons qualified to be full time students are:

  • They should cover at least 24 weeks, over a whole academic year.
  • They should have at least 21 hours of weekly study during term time including tuition or work experience.
  • Students studying for a qualification up to A-level, under 20, must be on a course lasting for at least three months, with at least 12 hours of study per week.

For full-time postgraduate students also, council tax is not included in rent. They are completely exempt from council tax. In case of research students, they are often given a ‘writing-up’ period at the end of their programme, to prepare their thesis for submission. They are given exemption by some local councils and not by others.

If you are a student but live with someone who is not a student, you may be able to get a discount on the council tax bill for your house.

Foreign language assistants

Properties which are exempt from council tax include properties where a Foreign Language Assistants on the official British Council programme is staying in. This could be a hall of residence or other type of shared property, neither the tenant in this case, nor the homeowner will have to pay council tax.

Person under 18

If you are under 18 and live with other people who are under 18, you will not have to pay council tax until someone turns 18. If you are the only person over 18 living in a house with under 18-year-olds, you may be able to get a council tax discount, as per the rules of your local authority.

Rented and receiving housing support

You may also be exempt from paying council tax if you:

  • Live in rented accommodation, and
  • Receive housing support services, and
  • Share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet with other residents in your accommodation

This exemption will only be applicable when you satisfy all the three conditions mentioned above.

When the landlord is responsible for paying council tax

The landlord is responsible for paying council tax in the following situations:

  • If you are living in a house in multiple occupancy (HMO), that is, a house or flat that has been built or changed for living in by one or more people who are not part of the same household.
  • If you reside in a hostel, nursing home or other accommodation where several individuals or households pay rent separately but share cooking or washing facilities.
  • If you are living in a convent, monastery or such religious community.
  • If you are living in a care home or other accommodation where you receive a high level of care and support.
  • If you  are  seeking an asylum, and are  living in accommodation provided by the UK Border Agency.
  • If you are a minister of religion living in a vicarage.
  • If you are a member of any religious community whose principal occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering.
  • If the tenant living there is a minister of religion of any faith who does not own the property but only lives and works there
  • If you are employed by the owner of the property as a domestic servant, such as you are a groundskeeper, or housekeeper etc
  • If all the people renting a property.are under the age of 18.
  • If the property is a care home, hospital, hostel for homeless people or women’s refuge.
  • If the tenants of the property  are residents of long stay hospital wards included on the valuation list.
  • If the property is a bed and breakfast or a hotel.
  • If the tenants are such that they are staying in a holiday caravan or boat which is parked/moored on another property and is therefore not a separate dwelling.

In all these situations the tenants do not have to pay the council tax.

Some of these situations where the owner is always liable for council tax are:

  • Owners  of care homes
  • Owners of properties occupied by religious communities
  • Owners of properties occupied by staff in domestic service
  • Owners of properties occupied by serving Ministers of Religion
  • Owners of properties used to house asylum seekers.
  • Owners of houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

When tenants pay council tax

Situations where it is always the tenants who pay the council tax are discussed below.

When it has been stated in your tenancy agreement may state that you have to pay something towards the council tax, even if the council has placed you in temporary accommodation you are still liable to pay council tax.

If you live with anyone else who is over 18 and liable to pay council tax, you have joint responsibility for paying the council tax along with that person. This means that you can be asked to pay the whole amount if the other person does not pay. One situation showcasing this point is where you share a flat with two more people and one of your flatmates moves out without paying their share of the council tax. Here,  the remaining two of you will be responsible for paying even his share of council tax, because you three had a joint liability.

If you are the only tenant  living in a property then you will be the liable person.

If more than 1 person rents, or lives there, a system called the hierarchy of liability is used to find out the person liable to pay the council tax. The person at the top, or nearest to the top, of the hierarchy is the one upon whom the responsibility to pay council tax falls upon. If there are 2 people at the same point of the hierarchy, they will both be liable.

The hierarchy of liability is:

  • First liability falls upon the resident owner-occupier who owns the freehold of all or any part of the property.
  • In absence of one, the responsibility is that of the resident leaseholder of all or any part of the property, such as an owner-occupier who pays a ground rent.
  • If there is no freeholder or leaseholder, council tax liability is that of the resident statutory tenant on an assured tenancy agreement, or a secure tenant, such as a council or private tenant.
  • Next is upon a resident who is a sub-tenant of all or part of the property.
  • When the resident is someone with no security of tenure, such as a person who lives in the property, and is a licensee, that is, a person who is not a tenant but has permission to live there, then any such resident staying at the property, for example a squatter has to pay the council tax.
  • As a last resort, if the property is not at all occupied by any resident, then the council tax liability falls upon the owner of the property who doesn’t live there. Meaning, the council tax liability falls upon a non-resident owner of any part of the property unless there is a non-resident tenant or subtenant who has a lease or sub-lease of 6 months or more.

Owner’s responsibilities

Owner of a property has the following responsibilities in Scotland:

  • He needs to make sure that he is registered. 

All private landlords in Scotland must be registered on the Scottish Landlord Register and provide their landlord registration number to their local Council Tax team.

  • You need to be fully registered as the owner of the property, before being registered as a tenant for Council Tax purposes. This means that you as an owner will be liable to pay any Council Tax due up to the date of registration. You can also apply to renew your registration.
  • You need to give a copy of the tenancy agreement to your tenant as well as keep one for yourself. You should also ensure that all the agreement copies are signed by everyone.
  • It is the owner’s duty to give his tenant a copy of the correct information notes, either on paper or digitally.
  • Next it is also the owner’s responsibility to register with the local council which covers the area where your let property is located.
  • Once all the paperwork is signed, you need to give your council your tenant’s details and their moving in date.
  • The owner needs to inform the tenant that the council has their details for council tax purposes, and also tell them what council tax band the property is in so they know how much council tax to pay.
  • Landlords need to make sure to inform the council of any moving in or moving out of tenants from their property so that it can hold the correct person responsible for council tax collection..This enables the council to issue a bill while the tenant is still resident and prevents any liability disputes in the future.
  • The owner needs to make sure that they tell the council about any change in tenancy within 21 days.
  • Between tenants, the responsibility of paying council tax is that of the property owner..

Conclusion 

This blog answered the question “Do tenants pay council tax in Scotland?” It covered the rules in Scotland as to when the tenants pay the council tax and when the landlords. It further covered various topics such as tenant’s and landlord’s responsibilities, tenancy agreement etc.

FAQs

Who pays council tax in Scotland, tenant or landlord?

The liable person pays council tax in Scotland. If the tenant is the resident on the property, or a part of it then he has to pay council tax accordingly. If the tenant is staying with someone else, then he has a joint liability to pay council tax in Scotland.

Does the landlord pay council tax Scotland?

Yes, the landlord pays council tax is many situations, such as when the tenant is a a domestic staff, or a person serving Ministers of Religion, or the property is a bed and breakfast etc, or when the property is empty with no tenants.

Can a landlord include council tax in the rent?

Yes, a landlord can include council tax in the rent. As a tenant you have to pay rent on the property, but most of the time the tenant needs to pay council tax separately. But it is upon the rent agreement, the landlord can include it in the rent itself.

What does Council Tax pay for in Scotland?

In SCotland, council tax is used to pay for local services provided by the council such as schools, waste collection, roads maintenance, street lightnings etc.

How do I become a landlord in Scotland?

To become a landlord in SCotland, you need to register yourself on the Scottish Landlord Register, and follow all the rules and regulations for your property that you are to rent. You need to make sure that everything is in accordance with the prescribed norms.

Citations 

https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/paying_for_a_home/paying_council_tax/what_is_council_tax
https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/paying_for_a_home/paying_council_tax/council_tax_exemptions
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/housing/council-tax/council-tax-s/
https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/article/17145/Council-Tax-Liability-Rules-for-Landlords
https://www.mygov.scot/renting-your-property-out/tenancy-deposits-and-moving-in
https://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/info/210559/council_tax_and_benefits/12135/information_for_landlords
https://www.s1homes.com/renting-property-in-scotland/renting-faqs/
https://www.falkirk.gov.uk/services/council-tax/frequently-asked-questions.aspx

http://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/ 

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