Find out who has to pay council tax and understand what we mean by joint and several liability.

If you live in a property as your main home, you are responsible for paying council tax. If you are under 18 you do not need to pay council tax. 

The person liable to pay council tax 

If there is more than one person living in the property, responsibility to pay council tax falls to the person nearest to the top of this list: 

  • The freeholder, if they live in the property 
  • The leaseholder, if the property is leased, and the leaseholder lives there 
  • The tenant, if the property has been rented out under a tenancy agreement to a tenant living in the property 
  • The person living in the property, if they have been granted a licence to occupy 
  • The person living in the property, including people who do not own the property or pay rent for it (including squatters) 

Joint and several liability 

If there is more than one person at your property that fits the description of the person liable, then each of you will be liable for the whole amount of the council tax, not just a share of it. This is called joint and several liability. 

For example, if you rent a property with a friend, you may each decide to pay half the council tax. But, if one of you fails to pay the other person is liable to pay the full amount. 

This includes married and unmarried couples living together.  

Empty properties 

If the property is empty, the owner is responsible for paying the bill, although a discount or exemption may be available. 

Owner responsible for paying council tax 

For some types of property, it is the owner rather than the occupier who is responsible for paying the council tax: 

  • Residential care homes, nursing homes and some hostels 
  • Properties occupied only by religious communities 
  • Houses in multiple occupation - that is to say, properties occupied by more than one household where the residents share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom 
  • Properties occupied only by employees in domestic service (or members of an employee's family), for the purposes of their employment, and where the main home of the employer is elsewhere 
  • Properties lived in by ministers of religion 
  • Properties provided to an asylum seeker under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 

For more information and to ensure you are paying the right amount of council tax, please see paying the right level of council tax on the GOV.UK website.


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