Do you pay council tax when renting?

🕑 5 minute read

If you are a renter, most of the time, you will pay the council tax. However, this isn’t always true and there are some uncommon situations where you won’t be responsible for covering this important bill.

How much you pay will depend on the area you live in, as different places have different rates. Council tax is split into different bands in the UK, indicated by a letter. ‘A’ is the cheapest council tax band, while ‘H’ is the most expensive.

Find out how much local authorities are charging for each council tax band.

What is council tax?

Council tax is collected by your local authority and goes towards paying for important local services, like street cleaning, lighting, rubbish collection, libraries and sports centres.

If you’re over 18, you’ll usually pay council tax, whether you own or rent your home.

You don’t have to pay if you’re a full-time student and everyone in your home is also a full-time student.

If you’re an apprentice who earns £195 or less a week, you won’t pay council tax.

If you’re the only adult in your household, you’ll get a 25% discount.

Who pays council tax – the tenant or the landlord?

Most of the time, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to pay council tax when renting. While some landlords might include bills in your rent, if you rent a property, the council tax bill is usually in your name.

The bill covers your whole household, so if you live with a friend or partner, you’ll get one council tax bill for both of you. If you’re both named on the lease, both of you are liable to pay council tax, but the total amount will stay the same.

You’re also responsible for the council tax bill if:

  • You’re a resident owner-occupier.
    If you own the property, you’re liable for the council tax bill if you’re living there. That still applies if you have housemates.
  • You own the property but don’t live there.
    Even if no-one’s living in a house you own, you have to pay council tax. Some councils even charge you extra for leaving a home empty.
  • You’re renting a whole property.
    Whether you rent a house or a flat, if you have the whole property to yourself, it’s usually up to you to make sure the council tax bill is paid.
  • You’re a licensee.
    If you run a pub and live there as part of your job, you’re still responsible for council tax, even if you’re not paying rent.

Make sure you get in touch with the council as soon as you move in. Council tax runs for 10 months of the year (April to January) and you can usually pay monthly. It’s possible to split the cost over 12 months of the year if you prefer.


When might your landlord pay council tax?

There are some occasions where a landlord will pay the council tax when you’re renting:

  • When it’s a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
    This is when multiple tenants pay rent separately, like a student house or a flat share with tenants who move in and out at different times.
  • If the occupant / occupants are under 18.
    Under 18s aren’t expected to pay council tax but the property will still be billed, so the landlord may add the cost onto the rent instead.


What to do if you can’t afford council tax

If you’re struggling to pay, make sure you contact the council as soon as you can to discuss your options. If you need independent advice, speak to an official support service, like the Citizens Advice.

Remember, there are circumstances where you might be due a discount, like if you live alone, you’re a student, or if someone living in the property is disabled. And if you’re really struggling, you might be entitled to a council tax reduction.

If you are on a low income or claim benefits, you may be able to have your council tax bill reduced (up to 100%). The size of the reduction will depend on where you live, your income and how many people live in your household.

Don’t just let council tax bills go unpaid. Make sure you get help as soon as you can.


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