Council Tax is made up of a 50/50 combination of two elements: 

  • property element
  • personal element 

The 50% personal element assumes that there are at least two adults over the age of 18 living in the property. 

Liability for Council Tax is determined by residence and a “ladder of legal status” or a “hierarchy of liability” within the dwelling. The liable persons in each dwelling will normally be those persons aged 18 or over who have their main home in the dwelling and have a legal status in relation to the dwelling, nearest to the top of the ladder set out below: 

  1. Resident freehold owner
  2. Resident leasehold owner
  3. Resident tenant (rent payer)
  4. Resident licensee
  5. Resident
  6. Non-resident owner (owner who does not live in the property)

Put simply, the liable person(s) in each dwelling will be the resident(s) who either owns or rents the dwelling. The non-resident owner will be liable for the Council Tax if the dwelling is no-one’s main home. 

Owner liability

The owner of the property rather the resident is always liable for the following classes of occupied dwellings: 

  • residential care homes and nursing homes
  • houses in multiple occupation
  • dwellings occupied by a religious community
  • dwellings inhabited by live-in staff employed in domestic services
  • residences of Ministers of religion

Joint and several liability and civil partnerships

Where adult members of the same household (freeholders, leaseholders, tenants and so on) have an equal interest in their dwelling, they will be held jointly or severally (that is, individually), liable to pay the whole Council Tax bill for the property. Husband and wife, or partners living together are held to be jointly and severally liable for the whole Council Tax bill. 

In all circumstances where there are two or more persons liable for the same Council Tax bill, it is in the interests of those persons to come to some amicable agreement between themselves about how to pay.

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