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The person liable for council tax is whoever comes first in this list:

  • Resident(s) who have a freehold interest - i.e the person living in the property is also the owner of that property
  • Residents who have a leasehold interest
  • Statutory or secure tenants
  • Residents who have a contractual licence to occupy
  • Other residents - for example squatters or those with no legal right to occupy
  • Owners

What is a 'resident' and an 'owner'?

Resident: Anyone aged 18 or over who has their sole or main residence (see definition of this below) in the home.

Owner: A person who has an interest in the whole or any part of the property. An interest is a freehold interest or leasehold granted for six months or more.

Examples include:

  • Free holders
  • Long lease holders
  • Assured and assured short hold tenants, housing association and council tenants whose tenancies were granted for at least six months

Can more than one person be liable?

Everyone who has an equal interest in the property will be jointly liable. This applies to the spouse or civil partner of the liable person resident in the same home. It also applies to married or unmarried couples living together.

Students who live in shared accommodation are normally exempt from council tax charges altogether. But difficulties can arise if one (or more) of the residents are no longer students. Get in touch for details.

What is sole or main residence?

'Sole or main residence' is a term used to describe the property that is classed as your home - the address you're deemed to be 'resident' at for council tax purposes.

In many cases, you will only have one home so this is not a problem.

But if you have more than one home, or work away from home, several factors must be taken into account to decide which address should be classed as your sole or main residence.

If there is a query over your place of residence we will consider these facts:

Time spent at or away from the property

Absence from the home does not necessarily mean that it is not your main residence (for example if you work away but do not have a property elsewhere).

But we will need to know the time you spend at and away from the property concerned, and also where your spouse/partner and children (if any) spend most of their time.

Legal interest

We will need to know your 'legal interest' in the property - for example do you own it, lease it or rent it?

We will also need to know your legal interest (if any) for where you spend the rest of your time.

Additionally, we will ask whether you are already paying council tax at another address.

Family ties

We will ask where you are registered for voting, doctors, dentist etc.

We will also take into account where your children (if any) go to school, whether you have membership of local recreation facilities and sports clubs etc and where you (and any spouse or partner) work.

Other factors

There are other important questions that we will ask you:

  • Where do you consider your main home to be?
  • Where do you keep the majority of your possessions?
  • Is the absence from the property temporary?
  • Do you have a clear intention to return to one particular property?

This may seem like a lot of questions to ask, but determining your sole or main residence is not a simple process and each case will be judged on its own merits. So, the more information you provide, the easier it will be for us to make our decision.

If you have any queries, or would like to know more about sole or main residence, get in touch. 

Don't think you should be paying the demand notice?

You can appeal if you believe you're not liable. Examples might be because you are not the resident or the owner, or because the property is exempt, or you think we've made a mistake calculating your demand.

If you are making an appeal you must continue to pay your current instalments in the meantime. If your appeal is successful you will be entitled to a refund of any overpaid council tax. Get in touch to find out more.  

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Last updated: Tue 19 May, 2020 @ 11:49