With the recent rises in council tax bills, you might be wondering what you have to pay as a renter.

Council tax bills tend to increase each year, so although the rises in England and Wales are not a surprise, it is not welcome news amid the cost of living crisis.

In England, most local authorities are restricted to increasing council tax by a maximum of 5% this year. 

In most of Scotland, council tax is frozen this year. 

In Wales, most local authorities will increase it between around 4.7% and 9.8%. 

What is council tax?

Council tax is collected by your local authority and goes towards paying for important local services, like street cleaning, lighting, rubbish collection, libraries and sports centres.

If you’re over 18, you’ll usually pay council tax, whether you own or rent your home.

Who pays council tax?

Most of the time, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to pay council tax when renting. While some landlords might include bills in your rent, if you rent a property, the council tax bill is usually in your name.

The bill covers your whole household, so if you live with a friend or partner, you’ll get one council tax bill for both of you. If you’re both named on the lease, both of you are liable to pay council tax, but the total amount will stay the same.

If you are a renter, most of the time, you will pay the council tax. However, this isn’t always true and there are some uncommon situations where you won’t be responsible for covering this important bill.

Recommended reading:

Council tax: Interactive map reveals increases across the UK

Cost of living: Household bills predicted to fall £350

'Double council tax' rule to come in from April in England

When is the landlord responsible for paying council tax?

There are some instances where the landlord will shoulder the responsibility of paying council tax. These are special circumstances and, generally speaking, the only times when liability is reversed.

So, tenants who find themselves fitting into any of the following categories may be exempt from paying council tax:

  • The occupant or occupants are all under the age of 18
  • The property in question is a care home, hospital, or refuge 
  • The occupant or occupants are asylum seekers
  • Temporary rentals to cover instances where your main residence is having emergency work carried out on it
  • The property in question is a HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) and all occupants pay rent individually. However, while the landlord is technically responsible for paying council tax, the rent will likely be adjusted to cover the cost in this instance

If you find yourself in a position where paying council tax has become difficult, you need to address the situation sooner rather than later. 

Your first call should be to your local authority to explain your situation and ask for help.