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Responsibility for paying Council Tax

The Council Tax bill is sent to the person who appears first on this list of categories:

  • a resident freeholder
  • a resident leaseholder
  • a resident statutory or secure tenant
  • a resident licensee
  • a resident, this can include a squatter
  • and if no one lives there as a main home, the owner

If two or more people are in the same category, for example joint owners or tenants, the Council Tax bill will show all the names. Married couples, civil partners and people living together as a couple will also receive a Council Tax bill in both names. The legal name for this is "joint and several liability". People who qualify for student or severely mentally impaired status are excluded from this joint and several liability rule.

Special cases where the owner should pay

Sometimes the owner will be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax bill, even if they do not live in the property the bill is for. Examples of this are:

  • residential care homes
  • nursing homes
  • mental nursing homes
  • hostels
  • a property occupied by a religious community
  • houses in multiple occupation
  • a property where the owner is not normally resident, but the occupier(s) is employed by them in domestic service
  • a property occupied by a minister of religion where they perform the duties of their office
  • a property provided to an asylum seeker(s) under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

Joint and several liability

Joint and several liability is when more than one person is responsible for paying the Council Tax at a property. For example, if there is more than one owner or more than one tenant living in the property, or if the owner or tenant has a partner.

You are the partner of a person if you are husband and wife, living together as husband and wife, civil partners or living together as civil partners.

What happens if I am jointly and severally liable for the Council Tax?

If you are jointly and severally responsible for the Council Tax you are responsible for paying the whole of the Council Tax bill not just a share of it. If you pay your 'share' but the other person does not pay their 'share', we can recover the arrears from you, not only from the other person.

Any arrangement about who pays what percentage of the Council Tax bill is between the liable persons. It is not our responsibility to decide how much each person should pay.

Information for landlords

If you are a landlord renting out a property who pays the Council Tax depends on what sort of letting arrangement you have.

When is the tenant responsible for paying?

If you are renting the whole of the property to one person or family, it is the responsibility of the tenant to pay the Council Tax. We will send the bill direct to them.

If you rent the property to more than one person, but they are joint tenants, then they are jointly responsible for paying the Council Tax. We will send the bill direct to them.

You are required to notify the Council when you are no longer permanently resident at the property, otherwise you may still be responsible for the payment of Council Tax. 

When is the landlord responsible for paying?

If you rent out a property to several people and they each have an individual tenancy agreement with you to occupy only part of the building, the property is a 'house in multiple occupation' (HMO). The law says that you, as the landlord, are responsible for paying the Council Tax, and you will receive the bill.

For Council Tax purposes, a house in multiple occupation (HMO) is:

  • a property that was built or has been adapted for tenants or licensees to live in, who are not living as a single household, or
  • a property lived in by a person or persons, each has a tenancy or license to live in only part of the property or pay rent or a fee for only part of the property

Changes of occupancy

The landlord and the tenant of a property both have a legal obligation to report any changes of occupancy. To do this, please call or email us using the contact details below. 

If you email us, please provide your Council Tax reference number if you know it, or your address. We also recommend you include a contact phone number in case we need to call you to discuss your circumstances.

Contact us

Council Tax
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 3600

Monday to Thursday 8.45am to 5pm
Friday 8.45am to 4.30pm

Contact Council Tax