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Council tax

There are several ways to pay your council tax, including by direct debit, post and online. Find out more below or read our guide to council tax 2015/16 (PDF, 800KB).

Who pays council tax?

Normally the person living in the property will pay council tax, providing it is their sole or main residence and they are over 18 years of age. The first person that appears on the list below is responsible for paying council tax:

  • An owner-occupier
  • A tenant
  • A licensee 
  • A resident (including squatters) 
  • The owner if the property has no residents

More than one person may be liable to pay the bill. For example, if they are joint owners or tenants, or are married or living together as though married, then they are held jointly and severally liable to pay council tax.

If the property is empty, then the owner is liable; however, there are some cases where the owner is always liable:

  • Houses in Multiple Occupation, where the residents have separate leases or licences, and only occupy or pay rent for part of the property (e.g. bedsit with shared facilities)
  • Residential Care Homes or Nursing Homes
  • Religious communities, such as monks and nuns
  • Houses occupied by Ministers of Religion
  • Houses occupied by most asylum seekers

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into effect on 5 December 2005. This means that couples in same sex relationships are treated the same as those in opposite sex relationships. This may change who's liable and entitlement to some discounts or exemptions may change. If you think you are affected by this or have any queries please contact the council tax team on 020 8356 3154 or email 

Can I pay less council tax? 

Bills can be exempt, or reduced by a discount of up to 50%, or reduced by the equivalent of one band, for the following reasons:

  • Only one adult residing in the property
  • Empty dwellings
  • Property adapted to meet the needs of a disabled person  
  • Students residing in the property
  • Specific circumstances (known as disregard discounts):
    • Carers - see guidance on right for more information
    • Apprentices
    • Severely mentally impaired people
    • School leavers
    • Members of religious communities
    • Foreign language assistants
    • Persons in detention
    • Diplomats
    • Hospital patients
    • Care workers

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Page updated: 7 Jul 2015 

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Contact details

Council Tax Contact Line
Opening Times
Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm
Tel:020 8356 3154