People who live in a property as their main home and are over 18 must usually pay the Council Tax for that property.

If more than one person lives in a property the person who appears first on the list below will be required to pay the Council Tax. This is referred to as the "hierarchy of liability". 

If two people appear at the same point of the hierarchy they have a joint responsibility to pay. If no one lives in the property then the owner has to pay the Council Tax.

Hierarchy of liability

  1. A resident who owns the freehold
  2. A resident who owns a leasehold
  3. A resident who is an assured, statutory or secure tenant
  4. A resident has a license to occupy the property.
  5. Any other resident such as a squatter

Sometimes the owner, rather than the residents, will be responsible for payment:

  • Houses in multiple occupation, this means the residents do not form a single household and pay their rent separately for different parts of the property through separate agreements.
  • Residential care or nursing homes, and some types of hostels which provide care
  • Homes occupied by Religious communities
  • Homes which are occasionally occupied by the owner and whose domestic staff are also resident
  • Properties occupied by ministers of religion which are used as a base for carrying out the minister's duties of office
  • Properties provided to asylum seekers

Joint liability

Two or more people may have to pay the Council Tax for a property. The circumstances when this occurs are:

  • People at the same position in the hierarchy of liability.
  • Residents who are married to each other or live together as husband and wife or are civil partners or live together as civil partners.
  • When two or more people are jointly liable for the Council Tax each person can be required to pay the whole of the Council Tax amount

Discounts and exemptions

In some circumstances, specific people or properties can either be exempt from paying council tax or entitled to a discount.

See discounts and exemptions