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Council Tax Liability

This guide will provide information on Council Tax liability and relevant Hierarchy Tenure. This will help you identify the correct liable party.


What we will cover

Who is Liable?


House of multiple occupation (HMO)

Joint and Several Liability

Sole and main residence

What is council tax?

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What is Council Tax?

·Council Tax is collected to cover the costs of providing Local Authority services: EducationSocial ServicesLightingStreet cleansingPolice ServicesFire ServicesCouncil Tax is best understood as a cross between a land tax and a personal taxCouncil tax is based on the assumption that 2 adult’s residents (aged 18 or over) are occupying the property.

The Local Government finance Act 1992. Click the blue dot to find out more!

The Local Government Finance Act 1992 is legislation that came into force on the 1st April 1993. The basis of the tax is a banded property valuation. The bands are maintained by the Valuation office Agency. People wanting to appeal their property banding can contact the VOA directly https://www.gov.uk/browse/housing-local-services/council-tax Council TaxIncludes council tax appeals, bands, discounts and...Www

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Council Tax Bands

The amount of council tax you pay is dependant on what band your property is in. Council Tax is calculated on a daily rate.

Case Law Lewis V Christchurch Borough Council 1996 340 Beach huts were found to be dwellings for the purposes of council tax and it was held that they would be entered as such into the valuation list. The definition of a domestic property did not require that a hereiditament be used for all the purposes that might be said to be the purposes of living accomodation ie the porperty had to be slept in. Definition of a Hereditament Hereditament is a term used to describe a property that is liable to rate

Valuation Bands are covered by Section 5 Local Government Finance ACt 1992A dwelling is defined in Section 3 Local Governement Finace Act 1992 A dwelling is a "hereditament" which is used wholly doe the purposes of a provate dwelling.


Who is Laible ?

Unit 01

Deciding who is liable

The basis on which a person is determind to be the "liable person" largley relies upon a requirement for the liable person to be resident on any day. Liability of an occupied property will in most cases be the responsibility of the resident(s).A resident is a person who is 18 years old or more and who has the property as their sole or main residence.The Liable Party is whoever comes highest on the Hierarchal Tenure List


Hierarchy of Tenure


A resident with a freehold interest


A resident with a leasehold interest (including an assured tenancy or assured shorthold tenancy)


A resident and a statutory tenant


A resident with a contractual licence to occupy the whole or any part of the dwelling .


A resident (including a squatter).

A non-resident owner


The Hierarchy of Tenure list is helpful to refer to if, for example, in a household with a number of residents there is a dispute regarding liability. Example:

  • Mr Duck both owns and occupies a property
  • His adult son, moves in
  • Although his son occupies the property he does not own it
  • Mr Duck is therefore higher on the Hierarchal List and is the liable person for council tax
  • His son is not held liable for council tax (he is a named occupant only)
In most cases where the property is unoccupied, the owner/ landlord of the property would be the liable party.

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Unit 01

Sole and Main Residence

If a person has only 1 property and this is clearly the property they reside in they will be held liable for council tax. Where a person has more that one home it will be necessary for the Authrity to decide which is their main residence. There are various factors that are taken into consideration to decide this:. Click on the info button to find out.

This can be a difficult area and in cases where the liability of a property under ‘sole or main residence’ has been challenged at a Court of Law for a decision to be made. Click on the Stars to read about case law.

  • The degree of permanence at a property, is there an intention to return?
  • Is the person listed on the Register of Electors (are they registered to vote at the address)?
  • Is the home the matrimonial home?
  • Where are most of the person’s belongings e.g. clothes kept?
  • Where is his/her post sent?
  • Can the person provide proof of his/her main residence elsewhere e.g. council tax bill showing the full charge paid at a different address?

Unit 01

If multiple adults occupy a property liable for ctax, each individual assumes responsibility for paying the full amount of tax, not just a portion.If one adult fails to pay their share the other occupiers are responsible for covering the full amount due The bill amount is not apportioned (shared) between the parties It is not limited to individuals who are married or in a civil partnership – it applies to any group of adults living in a property regardless of the relationshipThe only exception to this is if one or more are eligible for an exemption or disregard. Where one of the joint owners or occupiers are severely mentally impaired, the SMI person would not be held jointly liable A full-time student that holds a joint interest with one or more non-students cannot be held liable. Click the info button to see an example of how this works.

Joint and Several Liability




What does Joint and Several mean?

Each liable person will only pay their share of the bill


Only 1 person can be made liable on a bill


Each liable party is responsible for full payment of the bill



Which of the following statements is correct?

Mr and Mrs Chaplin live in rented accommodation both are liable for the council tax charge

Ms Munroe owns and lives in a property with her adult son so both are liable for the council tax charge


None of the statements are correct


In most cases where the property is unoccupied because the tenant has vacated the owner/landlord of the property will be nominated as the liable party on the account. There are a couple of execptions to this rule No 1 Leaseholders A leaseholder will normally enter into a lease agreement which is greater than the 6-month period given under the hierarchal table, they will then in some cases look to rent out the property to tenants. So, whilst they hold the lease for any period that the property is unoccupied in between tenants they will be liable for the council tax charge rather than the actual owner of the property and this will continue throughout the duration of the lease period.

Who is responsible to pay the council tax on an unoccupied property?

There may or may not be entitled to a discount which we will look at later

When the Owner is always Liable x

There are 6 classes of dwellings where the owner will always be held liable for council tax without having to establish the hierarchy these are known as prescribed classes:

Houses of Religious Communities

Houses in Multiple Occupation

Staff Residence

Religious Minister Resident

Asylum Seekers

Care Homes

Care homes and certain hostels providing care and support i.e., hostels, mental nursing home etc

Houses of Religious Communities -Inhabited by a religious community whose principal occupation consists of prayer, contemplation, education, the relief of suffering or a combination of all

Houses in Multiple Occupation - Domestic properties occupied by people who do not make up a single household; multiple tenancies and usually share facilities

Staff Residence - Second homes with domestic servants an example of this is a Manor House occupied entirely by employees

Religious Minister Resident - Residences of ministers of religion (any dwelling occupied by a minister of any religious denomination from which to perform their duties

Asylum Seekers - Accommodation occupied only by asylum seekers under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999



House in multiple occupation - HMO

The one that we have the most dealings with under the Prescribed Classes is Houses in Multiple OccupationGenerally, a house in multiple occupations will be a property occupied by more than one household and more than two people, and may include bedsits, shared houses, and some self-contained flatsA dwelling is classed as a house in multiple occupation if: It was originally constructed, or subsequently adapted, for occupation by more than one household. Each person who lives in it is either: A tenant or licensee able to occupy only part of the dwelling; or A licensee liable to pay rent or a licence fee on only part of the dwelling It may be necessary on any liability disputes to request copies of the tenancy agreements or request an inspection of the property to ascertain who the correct liable party is.

Example – House in Multi Occupation Mr A, Mr B and Mr C are all occupying the same property, they each rent 1 room. Each of the rooms have individual locks but the kitchen and bathroom are used by all 3 tenants. Their respective tenancy agreements confirm that Mr A is in Room 1, Mr B is in Room 2 and Mr B is in Room 3 Therefore, Mr S the non-resident owner (landlord) is the liable party Another way to look at this is that if Mr B vacated the property Mr A and Mr C’s rental payments would not increase as they all have separate tenancy agreements.


Bills and Frequency of Payments

  • Statutory installment scheme
  • Council tax charge starts every year on the 1st April and runs to 31st March the following year.
  • Charge payers have a right to pay the council tax charge in instalments over 10 months / 12 months which will usually end in January or March.
  • When their liability to pay commences part way through the year the number of instalments is reduced.


Payment Schemes

  • Payment plans can be set up - weekly / monthly / fortnightly / annually / twice yearly
  • Payment can be made either by: Standing order, Over the phone, Online – on the website using their account number
  • Post office or pay point using the barcode on the bill
  • Bank transfer
  • Cheque

  • Our bank account details for making payments are:
  • Bank account name: Salford City Council
  • Bank account number: 93073130
  • Sort code: 20-54-66
  • council tax reference number can be found on the front of the bill and must be entered as the reference.

Example of Joint and Several Liability

Mr A is nominated as the sole party from 01.02.15 (there is no Single Person Discount on the account)Recovery action is taken at a later date and investigations reveal • Mr A is unemployed• His partner Mrs A has been resident at the property from the same date 01.02.15• Mrs A is in full time employment However because her name has never been included in any notices that have been issued, the liability order has only been obtained in his name. This reduces the recovery options available for us to pursue

Ward v Kingston upon Hull City Council (1993)

Case Law Example

The High Court dismissed an appeal against the decision of the Humberside Valuation and Community Charge Tribunal that a person working in Saudi Arabia should be registered in Hull for the purposes of the personal community charge. The appellant in this case returned home for periods totalling 6 to 9 weeks in a year, his accommodation in Saudi Arabia was provided by his employer and his wife was said to be considering joining him there.Mr Justice Auld concluded that the tribunal’s decision could not be considered unreasonable, particularly given that Mr Ward had security of tenure of his home in Hull but not the accommodation provided in Saudi Arabia..

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Doncaster Borough Council v Stark and Stark (1997)

Case Law Example

This Council Tax case originated as an appeal against a decision of the billing authority to refuse to award a discount for single occupancy (SPD) but the dispute fundamentally concerned the question of whether Corporal Stark who was obliged to live in service accommodation on a nearby air base was found to be resident in the dwelling which he owned jointly with his wife. Following the principles of the earlier case Potts J said that the factors which pointed to the marital home in Doncaster being Corporal Starks main residence were the security of tenure he enjoyed there, the time spent there when he was not on duty and the fact that he would return there should he no longer be employed by the Royal Air Force.

Joint and several liability

Refers to the ability to bill more than 1 person for the council tax charge (remember they must all have an equal interest in the property)Examples include;A married couple, or living together as husband and wife, or formed a same sex couple3 people living in a property holding a joint tenancy2 people jointly own and occupy a property 2 people jointly own a property but both live elsewhere