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A Tenant’s Guide to Council Tax

What is Council Tax?

Council tax is a tax paid by residents aged over 18 to the local council for its services i.e., waste collection, road maintenance, and local leisure facilities such as parks.

It is paid in 10- or 12-month instalments and the amount you pay depends on the Band that your house is in, which in turn is calculated based on your home’s value on 1st April 1991.

What Band is my Property in?

You can find out what band your property is in by going to the following website and submitting your postcode and selecting your property:

From here, go to the Goverment’s Website and you can see How Much Tax your Band is liable for. The lowest band of council tax is H, with the highest band being A.

Who Pays Council Tax on a Rented Property?

It can be confusing as to whether a landlord or a tenant is liable to pay council tax. However, the government have outlined a hierarchy of who pays:

  1. The resident freeholder, for example an owner or occupier.
  2. Resident leaseholder, for example owner or occupier who’s paying a ground rent.
  3. The resident statutory or secure tenant, for example a council or private tenant.
  4. Resident licensee, for example the landlord of a public house who lives on the premises.
  5. Other resident, for example a squatter.
  6. Non-resident owner.

As those paying rent (i.e., the tenant) come above a non-resident owner (i.e., the landlord), the tenant is therefore liable to pay the council tax. However, if the property is empty and has no tenant, then the landlord is liable.

What if I live in an HMO?

If the landlord has divided the property into a HMO with all tenants having separate rental agreements, for example, bedsits with a communal kitchen, then the landlord is responsible for paying.

What Happens if I Move House?

If you move house, you must notify the local council that you have moved so that you pay council tax on your new home. This can be done below and will ensure you don’t get charged for two properties.

Discounts and Exemptions:

There are multiple exemptions/discounts for council tax. These include:

  • Single person discount- if you’re the only person aged over 18, you are eligible for a 25% reduction.
  • Certain people such as full-time students, apprentices, and care workers. See the full list here.
  • Low-income reduction.
  • Certain properties. These include unfurnished properties and recently repaired properties which may be exempt for 6 months. Properties occupied by only full-time students are also exempt.

How Do I Pay?

There are multiple ways to pay council tax in Bristol These are:

  • Direct Debit
  • Online
  • By Phone
  • Online/Telephone Banking
  • Post via cheque

What Happens if I Don’t Pay my Council Tax?

If you don’t pay, your local council will send a letter reminding you with a 7-day period in which to pay. If you miss this deadline, then you will have to pay the whole year’s amount upfront. Then, if you do not pay this, the council can ask a magistrate for a ‘liability email’ which will enable them to make a legal demand for payment of the arrears.

In conclusion, it is wise for landlords to avoid any confusion as to who is liable for all bills by putting a clause into the tenancy agreement. This will ensure that the tenant knows they are liable for paying it.


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