Council Tax

  • A system of local taxation
  • Collected by the local authority
  • A tax on property, levied on people
  • Applies to residential property only
  • Uses a banded or tiered system for calculation

Each local authority maintains a list of all the domestic property in its area. Each property is given a valuation as at 6th April 1991 (soon to be revisited). The valuations are banded and the bands are uniform throughout England. A different set of bands apply in Scotland.

Finding out the band

  • Look at the Council Tax Bill, or
  • Look on-line at, or
  • Visit the local authority’s offices, where the list is kept for public inspection. Sometimes a list is also available in libraries.

Exempt Properties

Residential Property which is empty. In England this means substantially unfurnished and in Scotland it means completely unfurnished. The exemption applies for a maximum period of six months.

  • Property which is vacant because it needs major repairs or alterations to make it habitable. The exemption applies for a maximum period of twelve months.
  • Property where all the people living in it are students or are severely mentally impaired or a mixture of the two. (This may be a Hall of Residence or a house).
  • Property in England that is a “granny flat” occupied by an individual who is a dependant relative of the owner of the main property.
  • Property where all the people who live in it are under 18 years old.
  • Property that is condemned.
  • Property that is unoccupied because the owner has gone to care for another.
  • Property that is unoccupied because the person who lived there has gone elsewhere to be cared for (e.g. hospital or care home or with relatives).
  • Some caravans and boats.

In Scotland further types of property are exempt.

Who Pays

The liable person is liable to pay Council Tax. Usually a person living in the property will be the liable person, but sometimes it will be the owner even if he does not live at the property.

The owner will be liable even if he/she does not live at the property if:

  • The property is in multiple occupation.
  • The people in the property are all under 18 years old.
  • The people in the property are asylum seekers and are not able to claim benefits including Council Tax benefit.
  • People who are staying there temporarily and have their main home elsewhere.


The Council Tax you pay may be reduced if you can benefit from the scheme for disabled people or Council Tax Benefit, or a range of discounts. A discount is available where there is only one adult living in the property. Where there is more than one some may be disregarded for example:

  • persons aged under 18,
  • persons living in the property temporarily and who have their main home elsewhere
  • prisoners etc
  • people who are severely mentally impaired
  • full time students
  • long term hospital patients or care-home residents
  • care workers and live-in carers
  • members of a religious community
  • members of visiting armed forces and their dependents

This is not an exhaustive list of persons who qualify for discount – for a complete list you should contact the local authority or Citizens Advice Bureau or go on-line.


Appeals can be made about a range of issues about Council Tax.

Appeal to the Valuation Office about the band in which the property is placed or whether or not the property should be on the valuation list, or, in the case of a mixed use property, how much is residential and how much is not.

Appeal to the Local Authority about who is the liable person, exemption, discounts, and reduction schemes.

There are strict time limits for making an appeal. Generally this is six months from the time the appellant became the liable person.

Sundry Matters

  • If you live permanently in a hotel you will not be liable for Council Tax
  • If you live in a stationary caravan you will pay Council Tax, if you have a fixed caravan as a holiday home you may pay business rates. Towing caravans kept at your home will not be liable for Council Tax.
  • If you have a second home the second property may qualify for a discount if no-one lives there permanently

© Landlords Tax Services Ltd 2016 All Rights Reserved - In an article such as the one on this page we can only give brief general guidance and cannot cover all situations. This guidance may not cover all your personal circumstances and so you should not rely on it. Before taking action or not, always do your own specific research and seek appropriate professional advice which takes into account your personal circumstances, with the full facts of the case and all documents to hand. Neither Maurice Patry F.C.A. nor Landlords Tax Services Ltd can be held responsible for the consequences of any action or the consequences of deciding not to act.