Council tax is a mandatory tax due upon all residents whether they are owners or renters of domestic property. Through this article, we aim to learn whether council tax is due on individuals who live on a boat. Additionally, we will also explore the various details of council tax bands, how they are assigned to properties, the eligibility criteria for council tax reduction especially if someone lives on a boat alone.

Do You Pay Council Tax If You Live On A Boat?

While you don’t actually pay council tax for a boat that serves as your residence, the council tax is due for mooring. This means that if the boat remains on a cruise, there is no council tax due on it; however, if it serves as a permanent residence for the occupier and they need it to be moored, 

Some residential moorings include council tax bills in the marina costs. In such cases, boat dwellers will not have to pay council tax separately.

Although the council tax rate in such situations is decided by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in the same manner as they would assess the value of a house and assign a council tax band, boats that serve as permanent residence are usually assigned Band A for council tax purposes. This means that the occupant will be paying the minimum amount of council tax if they live on a boat.

Additionally, if the occupant lives alone on a boat, they will be able to avail the single occupancy discount on their council tax bill; which makes the annual payment much affordable.

If the reason for living on a boat is to reduce one’s expenses, it is essential to note that there are certain expenses that are mandatory for individuals aiming to use a boat. These include a boat license to use the waterways. This usually costs between £500 to £1000 per year.

Additionally, there is a mooring fee that is incurred by boat dwellers to rent a moor for your boat when it is not on a cruise.

If you intend to consider a boat as your permanent residence, you should consider the following elements:

  • there are very few residential moorings available 
  • some mooring operators are reluctant to offer a boat for rent to individuals who aim to make a boat their permanent residence
  • if you are unable to find a permanent moor, you may have to be a continuous cruiser.
  • a continuous cruiser can moor in one space for 2 weeks; which may not be convenient for those who have to commute for work or school.

Visitor moorings on canals and rivers that are governed by the Canal and River Trust are often free of charge. In this case, you are permitted to moor nearly anywhere as long as there is no obstruction caused to waterways.

If someone chooses to make a boat their permanent residence due to low income, they may be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to be able to pay mooring fees and boat rentals.

How Much Council Tax Do I Have To Pay?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) initially assessed the market value of properties according to their worth in 1991 (this is a uniform practice across the UK) to assign them a valuation band. 

There are eight bands that run across A to H, with Band A assigned to properties with the lowest value and increasing up to Band H for properties with higher values. It is on the basis of this assigned band, that the amount of council tax is decided. Therefore, the higher the valuation band, the higher the council tax payments.

Below is a detailed classification of council tax rates according to their valuation bands:

Council Tax BandProperty Value
AUp to £40,000
BOver £44,000 and up to £52,000
COver £52,000 and up to £68,000
DOver £68,000 and up to £88,000
EOver £88,000 and up to £120,000
FOver £120,000 and up to £160,000
GOver £160,000 and up to £320,000
HOver £320,000 

What Is A Single Person Discount On Council Tax?

If you live alone or are the only adult in the household, you are eligible for a 25 per cent discount on your council tax bills (irrespective of your income or savings). This is a single person discount on council tax. To avail of this discount, you must inform your local council office of your circumstances so that your bills may be adjusted appropriately. 

Who Is Eligible For Council Tax Discount?

To qualify for a council tax benefit certain criteria needs to be met. Following are some examples: 

  • Two adults who live in the same house qualify to pay full council tax; they may share the bill. However, if a single adult is living in a property by themselves, they may be eligible for a 25 per cent reduction in the bill irrespective of the fact whether they are part-time employees or full-time ones. The same rule applies if an adult is sharing the premises with one or more individuals under the age of 18 years.
  • A 50 per cent council tax benefit becomes applicable if all the residents of the household are under 18 years of age. Complete exemption or a 100 per cent discount is applicable if all the residents of the said premises are full-time students.
  • Individuals on a low income or those receiving other forms of public support qualify for a 100 per cent discount on their council tax bills. To apply for this exemption, claimants may be homeowners or tenants; they may either be unemployed or working. 

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. 

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.

Who Has to Make Council Tax Payments?

Any individual, over the age of 18 years, whether a homeowner or tenant, employed or unemployed, is eligible to pay their council tax bills to the local council office. This is an annual tax; spread across 10 monthly instalments between April and January with February and March considered as tax holiday months.

Usually, one person is considered the prime point of contact and the one considered as “liable” to pay council tax bills. To qualify for this, the said occupant must be above 18 years of age. Couples sharing premises are jointly liable for their council tax bills; however, anyone of them may be listed to be considered as liable for payments.

In the case of a rented property, it is the tenant who is liable to pay council tax. However, should any of the following situations occur, the liability becomes extended towards the owner:

  • all the occupants are under 18 years of age
  • the occupants are asylum seekers
  • the occupants are multiple households/ couples/ individuals co-sharing the rent and premises
  • the property is a second home or holiday home and the residents have a main home elsewhere
  • the property is a care home or refugee shelter

Conclusion:

If someone lives on a boat, they are eligible for council tax payments, not for the boat but for mooring their boat. The rate of council tax, in this case, will depend on the area and council district that applies to them as well as the valuation band assigned by the VOA. Generally, boat dwellers are assigned a Band A classification which means that they will be required to pay the minimum amount of council tax. However, this is not the only expense that someone living in a boat will have to bear. There are mooring and licensing fees to be incurred as well and while some individuals may find a permanent mooring area for their boat, some may have to keep shifting from one location to another.

FAQs: Do You Pay Council Tax If You Live On A Boat?

Do you pay council tax if you live on a boat UK?

While you don’t actually pay council tax for a boat that serves as your residence, the council tax is due for mooring. This means that if the boat remains on a cruise, there is no council tax due on it; however, if it serves as a permanent residence for the occupier and they need it to be moored, Some residential moorings include council tax bills in the marina costs. In such cases, boat dwellers will not have to pay council tax separately.

Do people living on canal boats pay council tax?

People living on canal boats are not due for council tax payments for living on a boat; rather for the mooring to which the boat dweller returns to reside.

Can you legally live on a boat in the UK?

Yes, you can legally live on a boat in the UK as long as you pay for a mooring license to use the waterways. This usually costs between £500 to £1000 per year. Additionally, there is a mooring fee that is incurred by boat dwellers to rent a moor for your boat when it is not on a cruise.

Do you have to pay tax if you live on a boat?

Yes, you have to pay tax if you live on a boat. However, if someone chooses to make a boat their permanent residence due to low income, they may be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to be able to pay mooring fees and boat rentals.

Where can I moor my boat for free UK?

Visitor moorings on canals and rivers that are governed by the Canal and River Trust are often free of charge. In this case, you are permitted to moor nearly anywhere as long as there is no obstruction caused to waterways.

References: 

Living on a boat – Shelter England

Caravans and boat moorings

Council Tax: who has to pay it?

Do You Pay Council Tax on a Narrowboat?

Council tax: Why do some areas pay more and how can you reduce your bill?

Apply for Council Tax Reduction