Who Pays the Council Tax on Rental Property: Explained

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When it comes to renting a property, there are various financial aspects that both landlords and tenants need to understand. One crucial consideration is council tax, a local tax levied by local authorities in the UK.

In this article, we will delve into the question of who pays the council tax on rental property and clarify the roles and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Let’s explore this topic in detail.

Understanding Council Tax:

Council tax is a local tax collected by local councils to fund essential public services like garbage collection, street maintenance, and local schools.

It is applicable to all residential properties, including rental properties. The responsibility for paying council tax is typically shared between landlords and tenants, depending on the type of rental agreement and the local council’s regulations.

Landlord’s Responsibility:

In most cases, landlords are responsible for paying council tax when the property is empty or unoccupied. This is usually the period between tenants or when the property is undergoing renovations.

During these vacant periods, landlords are required to notify the local council and may be eligible for a reduced rate, known as the “empty property discount.” It’s important to note that each local council might have its own rules regarding vacant property tax rates and discounts.

Tenant’s Responsibility:

When the rental property is occupied, the responsibility for paying council tax usually falls on the tenant’s shoulders. This is because the tenant is benefitting from the local services provided by the council while residing in the property.

The council tax amount varies based on the property’s valuation band, which is determined by the property’s value as of April 1, 1991. The valuation bands range from A to H, with A being the lowest and H the highest.

Joint Tenancy and Single Liability:

In cases where there are multiple tenants in a shared rental property, the council tax liability is often stipulated in the tenancy agreement.

Some agreements might make all tenants jointly liable for council tax, while others may designate a single tenant as responsible for the payment. It’s essential to have clear terms in the tenancy agreement to avoid disputes.

Council Tax Exemptions and Discounts:

Certain situations might lead to council tax exemptions or discounts for tenants. For instance, full-time students are usually exempt from paying council tax, while single occupants or individuals with certain disabilities might be eligible for a discount.

It’s crucial for tenants to inform the local council about any applicable exemptions or discounts they qualify for.


In conclusion, the question of who pays the council tax on rental property depends on various factors, including whether the property is occupied or vacant and the terms outlined in the tenancy agreement. Both landlords and tenants have specific responsibilities when it comes to council tax payment.

Understanding these responsibilities is essential to ensure smooth interactions between landlords, tenants, and local authorities, ultimately contributing to a successful and hassle-free rental experience.

If you’re unsure about the council tax arrangements for your rental property, consulting with legal experts or landlord associations can provide valuable insights tailored to your specific situation.

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