What is council tax?

Updated on 6 April 2023


Council tax and business rates are the primary ‘local taxes’ in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the equivalent to council tax is rates.

Illustration of a house, coin and the word tax

Council tax is payable on a ‘dwelling’. This can include self-contained accommodation within a property. Some dwellings are exempt, including property wholly occupied by students as their full-time or term-time residence.

The council tax bill is calculated according to the value of the property. It may be reduced where there is only one occupier.

Further guidance is available on GOV.UK and on our website.

If you are renting a property (either as a landlord or tenant), the responsibility for paying council tax depends on what sort of letting arrangement you have. You can find more information on GOV.UK.

If you are renting the whole of a property, then it will probably be your responsibility to pay the council tax. You should check your tenancy agreement to confirm the position. If you rent the property with another person or persons, you may be jointly responsible with them for paying the council tax.

If you are living in a 'house in multiple occupation' (HMO) the landlord will probably receive the bill. This can include a shared house where three or more tenants each have an agreement with the landlord to rent their own bedroom and use the shared facilities (kitchen, bathroom, living rooms). There is more information about HMOs on GOV.UK.

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