Council Tax - What It Is And Who Must Pay
Council Tax is the local tax that helps to pay for the services we provide, such as housing, street lighting, refuse collection, libraries etc. It also pays for the services provided by Essex County Council, Essex Fire and Rescue and Essex Police.
Freeholders and leaseholders
You are responsible for paying the bill if you are the owner occupier or leaseholder (with a lease of six months or more) of a property and you live in it as your main or only home.
You are responsible for paying the Council Tax if you are living in a property, and:
- you are a statutory or secure tenant, or living there under a licence
- it is you your main or only home
- you are aged 18 or over.
No-one is living in the property
If there is no-one living in the property as their main or only home, then the owner is liable to pay Council Tax.
Joint and several liability
Joint and several liability is a legal term which means that each person with the same level of interest in a property is equally responsible for paying the Council Tax. We will issue the Council Tax bill in more than one name if you:
- own your property jointly with another person or other people
- have a joint tenancy with another person or other people
- are married
- are part of a civil partnership
- live with someone else as part of a couple.
If you are named on the bill you are jointly and severally liable if it is unpaid. This means that you are not responsible just for your portion of the bill, but for ensuring that the whole bill is paid. If the bill is not paid, we can pursue any of the individuals named on it for the whole amount.
It is important that if more than one person is named on your bill, you make arrangements between you to ensure we receive the full payment on time.
Students are not jointly or severally liable in cases where they live with non-students.
As a landlord you are responsible for paying Council Tax if the property is designated as a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
An HMO is a house or flat that is lived in by one or more people who are not part of a single household. This includes bedsits, halls of residence, hostels, nurses' homes and homes shared by people who are not on the same tenancy. You are also liable for the Council Tax if you own:
- residential care homes
- nursing homes
- property lived in by religious communities
- homes of ministers of religion
- homes provided for asylum seekers under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.