About Council Tax
Most dwellings are subject to a Council Tax charge.
There is usually one bill per dwelling, whether it is a house, bungalow, flat, maisonette or mobile home, whether it is owned or rented and occupied or unoccupied.
We send Council Tax bills out each year for the 1 April.
Bills are normally payable in 10 monthly instalments from April to January, with payments due on the 1 day of the month.
The number of instalments is reduced if the bill is sent out later in the year (for example, if you move house).
Other payment dates are available if you pay by Direct Debit.
Who has to pay Council Tax?
Resident-owners or resident-tenants (including council tenants) usually have to pay Council Tax.
If the property is unoccupied, or it is no-one’s main home, the owner is responsible for the bill.
A 'resident' is a person of 18 years or over who lives in the dwelling as their only or main home.
'Owner' in relation to any dwelling means the person(s) who has a material interest in the whole or any part of the dwelling. ('Material interest' means a freehold interest or a leasehold interest, which was granted for a term of six months or more.)
Are the residents always liable?
In some special cases the owner, not the residents, has to pay Council Tax.
- Dwellings occupied by more than one household, where the residents pay rent separately for different parts of the dwelling and where the households perhaps share cooking or washing facilities, for example, some hostels, nurses’ homes or groups of bed-sits
- Residential care homes, nursing homes (such as hospices), mental nursing homes or certain types of hostel providing a high level of care
- Religious communities such as monasteries or convents
- Dwellings which are not the owner’s main home, but which are the main home of someone whom the owner employs in domestic service
- Vicarages and other dwellings where a minister of religion lives and works. (Where the owner-occupier is a Church of England minister of religion, the Church is responsible for the bill)
- Accommodations provided to asylum seekers under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
If you live in such a dwelling, where the owner is liable, you do not have to pay Council Tax.
If your landlord is the liable person, they might be able to ask you to pay something towards the bill, depending on the terms of your agreement with them.
If you are liable to pay council tax in your capacity as an owner of a dwelling you may be entitled to a discount or exemption depending upon specific conditions.
Does only one person have to pay in each dwelling?
In some cases, more than one person is responsible for seeing that the bill is paid.
People who are joint owners or joint tenants are jointly liable.
Generally married couples are jointly responsible for paying the bill if they live in the same dwelling.
This also applies where couples are living together in a domestic partnership, and couples in Civil Partnerships.
Students and people who are severely mentally impaired will not be jointly liable.
Does each liable person get his or her own bill?
We may send the bill to just one of the liable people, to some of them, or to all of the liable people - this depends on the information which has been made available to us. We may send out forms asking for information so that people can tell who should pay.
We also use information provided by other councils, statutory bodies and relevant third parties (for example, a landlord, solicitor, or the previous owner of a property).
You should always tell us of any changes that may affect your Council Tax or respond to our written request for information.
The law allows us to charge a penalty of £70 if you fail to tell us about:
- A single person discount that should have ended
- An exemption on a dwelling that should have ended
- Any other discount that should have ended
- A change of address
- Any change to the household that affects who should be the liable person
- Information that was requested to establish liability
Penalties will normally be added to your Council Tax account and a new bill will be sent to you.
If you've had the first £70 penalty added to your Council Tax bill and we need to make further requests for the same information, we can add further penalties of £280 every time you fail to supply this information.
If you disagree with the penalty
If you disagree with a penalty, you should discuss it with us first so that you can explain why you disagree. Please contact us and we can advise you how to proceed.
Payments during the appeal process
If you do appeal the decision of the penalty being applied, unlike appealing any other part of your Council Tax, you do not have to pay your penalty until your appeal has been decided. You should continue to pay your Council Tax until a decision is made.
How can I appeal?
An appeal can be made to us if you believe:
- you are not liable for the tax and we are sending bills to the wrong person
- the dwelling should be exempt but no exemption has been granted
- a discount should apply but has not been given
- a reduction should be given for a disability but has not been awarded.
Appeals in respect of property bandings need to be made through the Valuation Office Agency [external link].
When you appeal to us you must first write to us detailing which decision you are unhappy with and why.
We may ask for further information when considering the appeal and have two months in which to reply (but will normally do so a lot sooner).
If you still disagree with our decision or we do not respond within 2 months, you will have the right to appeal directly to the Valuation Tribunal [external link].
During an appeal you must continue to pay your Council Tax. If a decision is made in your favour, we will revise the bill and payments accordingly.