We work out who has to pay Council Tax by finding out who falls into the highest of the following categories:
- a freeholder who lives in the property (for example, an owner-occupier);
- a leaseholder who lives in the property (for example, an assured tenant);
- a tenant who lives in the property;
- a licensee who lives in the property;
- someone else living in the property (for example, a squatter).
If two or more people fall into the highest category, they will be equally responsible for paying Council Tax. This is known as 'joint and several liability'. This means that we can ask any of the people to pay all the Council Tax bill. It does not mean that each person is only responsible for their share of the bill.
A married couple, or a couple living together as husband and wife, or civil partners will also be jointly liable, even if one partner falls into a lower category.
If nobody is living at a property, the owner has to pay Council Tax.
There are also some special cases where the owner has to pay Council Tax even though there are people living in the property:
- residential care homes, nursing homes and some hostels;
- homes of ministers of religion;
- homes of religious communities;
- homes of domestic servants;
- houses where several families live (multiple occupation); and
- houses occupied by asylum seekers.