Council Tax – who’s liable and what happens in the summer?

by Ed Firmin

Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2015 at 10:00

For landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), it can get quite confusing as to what are the rules when it comes to paying council tax. So here’s a quick run-down on who’s liable for what, and what exemptions are available.

Who’s liable for paying council tax?

If a landlord lets a normal residential property, then the tenant is liable to pay council tax. However, if the property is an HMO (where tenants are paying rent for rooms on individual tenancy agreements), then the liability is switched to the landlord.

What exemptions are available?

If you are renting the property to full-time students, and there will only be students living there, then the property will be exempt from paying council tax – the students must provide evidence from their university or college for this exemption, which clearly states the start and end dates of their course.

If someone moves into the property that isn’t a student, then the property will no longer be fully exempt from council tax, although there may be a discount for single person occupancy (as students will be taken out of the equation in this instance).

What happens during holiday periods, such as summer and Christmas, for example?

The tenancy agreement will help out here. If, for example, the agreement covers the period where the property is not vacated, then the student is still tied to the property, and therefore, the exemption remains in place. So, taking the example of Christmas, the student will return in the New Year, and continue living in the property, therefore still exempt from council tax.

The summer holidays may be slightly different. If the student has signed an agreement for the following year, then the example above applies. However, if there is a period of a couple of months where one student has moved out, and another isn’t due until the next academic year, then you will be liable for the council tax due for those couple of months. You may be able to apply for a 25% discount if the property is furnished, and possibly be exempt if the property is left unfurnished. Check with your local Council Tax Office to clarify the rules, as they can differ between councils.

So you can see how confusing it is! If you would like some advice on what you are or aren’t liable to pay for your property, please get in touch, and I can help to steer you in the right direction.


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