Who Should Pay Council Tax


The person who has to pay is called the “liable person”. The liable person is normally the person or persons who reside in the dwelling as their sole or main home and who fit the description nearest the top of the following list:

  • Residents who have a freehold interest in the property i.e. owner occupiers
  • Residents who have a leasehold interest in the property i.e. lease holders
  • Residents who are statutory or secure tenants i.e. rent payers
  • Residents who have a contractual licence to occupy the property e.g. occupants of tied cottages
  • Residents with no legal interest in the property
  • Non-resident owners

The term ‘resident’ in this context refers to anyone over the age of 18 years who lives in the dwelling as their main or only home. You cannot have more than one main home for council tax purposes. When determining whether a property is a person’s main residence, factors such as the amount of time spent there and whether it is their family home are considered. People living with a partner are jointly and severally liable, even if only one of them meets the liability rules. 


Owner liability

There are some cases where the owner, not the resident, is liable for the bill. This would apply for:

  • Residential care homes, nursing homes or hostels
  • Houses of multiple occupation. e.g. a house shared by a number of different households who all pay rent separately
  • Properties inhabited by religious communities (monasteries or convents)
  • Properties occupied by resident or domestic staff
  • Properties used by ministers of religion
  • Dwellings occupied solely by asylum seekers

If the property is unoccupied, the owner is liable.

The term 'owner' in this context refers to any person who has a freehold or leasehold (material) interest in the whole or any part of a dwelling which was granted for a period of 6 months or more. 


Exemptions and discounts

Some occupied properties, empty properties and some people qualify for either an exemption or discount from Council Tax. Please see the appropriate page for more information.  


Liability appeals

If you think you should not be liable for council tax, or have been refused a discount or exemption to which you think you are entitled, you have the right of appeal. You should write in the first instance to the Council Tax Department by emailing revenues.benefits@arun.gov.uk or in writing to the address at the bottom of this page. If you are unable to resolve your dispute directly with the council you should write to:

Valuation Tribunal Service South Region
2nd Floor
120 Leman Street
E1 8EU
Tel no. 0300 123 2035
Fax no. 0207 7481 4891
N.B. You must continue to pay the Council Tax charge pending the outcome of any appeal.