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

Do tenants pay council tax?

Yes, tenants do pay council tax 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 tenants are exempt from paying council tax

Being a tenant you are exempt from paying council tax  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

If you are a full-time student, and are renting a place, then the responsibility to pay council tax for that place does not fall upon you. You are exempt from paying council tax. Whether you are renting in university halls of residence or someone’s house, or an apartment, you do not have to pay council tax. If you are part-time students, however, you do not have to pay it.

You are qualified to be a full time student if you satisfy the following condition:

  • You cover at least 24 weeks, over a whole academic year.
  • You have at least 21 hours of weekly study during term time including tuition or work experience.
  • You are a student 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.
  • If you are a full-time postgraduate student also, council tax is not included in rent for you. You are completely exempt from council tax. In case you are a research student, you are often given a ‘writing-up’ period at the end of your programme, to prepare your thesis for submission. You 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.

Advice for the landlords

The owner of a property needs to keep the following in mind to avoid any unexpected situations with council tax bill payment:

  • A landlord always needs to determine who is responsible for paying council tax in the tenancy agreement
  • He should always keep a signed copy of the tenancy agreement on his file
  • He should notify the local authority when any change in tenancy takes place, also, he needs to give the names of new tenants to the local council
  • For HMO properties where it is the property owner who is liable to pay council tax, he can ensure that he factors this fact while determining the rent price and getting into the rent agreement
  • It is always in the best interest of the landlord to plan for any void periods in between chance of tenancies, when the property is empty and the landlord has to pay the council tax
  • The landlord, from time to time, can check for any council tax discounts or exemptions that he might be eligible for
  • A property owner should also try to minimise void periods when the property remains empty, in order to avoid paying council tax when it has not been let out to any tenant.

Conclusion 

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

FAQs 

Do I have to pay council tax if I rent privately?

Yes, you do have to pay rent if you rent privately, since it is you who are occupying the property and availing the facilities provided  by the local council on it such as water, electricity, waste disposal etc.

Why do landlords not pay council tax?

Most of the landlords do not pay council tax because the tenant who occupies their property and avails the facilities provided to him by virtue of that property is able to pay the council tax over it, and is thus, responsible to pay the council tax.

Can a landlord include council tax in the rent?

Yes, the landlord can include council tax in the rent, provided that he informs you of it in the rent agreement. It is upon the landlord, whether they require you to pay the council tax directly to your local council, or they collect the money from you and then pay to the council. Anyhow it is done, the responsibility lies on you if you are the liable person.

What happens if the tenant doesn’t pay council tax?

If you do not pay the council tax, whether you are a tenant or a landlord, the same recovery measures are followed by the council, wherein your debt keeps on accruing and council takes further severe actions if you keep on refusing payment.

Does the landlord pay council tax on empty property?

Yes., when a property becomes empty and no tenant resides over it, then it is the landlord who is liable to pay the council tax over that property.

Citations 

https://www.pettyson.co.uk/about-us/our-blog/582-who-pays-council-tax-renting
https://www.makeurmove.co.uk/article/1950/What_should_I_do_if_my_tenant_doesnt_pay_the_council_tax
https://myurbanjungle.com/explore/blog/do-you-pay-council-tax-if-you-rent/
https://nolettinggo.co.uk/blog/landlord-council-tax/
https://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/55/council_tax/2288/who_should_pay_council_tax
https://www.newham.gov.uk/council-tax/pay-council-tax/5
https://myurbanjungle.com/explore/blog/do-you-pay-council-tax-if-you-rent/
https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/content/should-landlord-or-tenant-pay
https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/who-pays-council-tax
https://www.sandradavidson.com/landlords-news/who-pays-council-tax-tenant-or-landlord/
https://www.leeds.gov.uk/council-tax/responsibility-for-paying-council-tax
https://medwaypremierhomes.com/blog/when-is-the-landlord-responsible-for-paying-council-tax/27575

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