Who is liable for council tax
Very few students are liable to pay council tax. Normally, either the dwelling is exempt because everyone who lives there is a student, or the non-students in the household are solely liable for the council tax.
If the dwelling is not exempt from council tax, at least one person is liable for the bill. There is a hierarchy to determine liability – the first person in the hierarchy is the one who is liable to pay. If there are two or more people at the same level, they are usually jointly liable, but there is an exception for students.
Council tax liability hierarchy
Resident statutory, statutory assured or secure tenant
Non-resident owner unless there is a non-resident tenant or a non-resident sub-tenant, either of whom have a lease of six months or more
If students share accommodation with non-students who are at the same level in the hierarchy, the non-students are liable but the students are not.1s75(4) LGFA 1992, as amended by s4 Education (Graduate Endowment and Student Support) (Scotland) Act 2001
Three students, Rahul, Will and Jameel, share a flat as joint tenants. While they are all students, the flat is exempt and there is no council tax to pay. Will drops out of his course. The flat is no longer exempt. Will is solely liable for the whole council tax bill (although there is a discount). Rahul and Jameel are not liable for any council tax. Will should apply for a council tax reduction if his income is low.
Christine is studying full time and owns the flat she lives in. She rents a room to a friend who is not a student. Christine is liable for the council tax. She gets a 25 per cent discount on the bill. Her friend is not liable for any council tax.
Raj is studying full time and owns the flat he lives in. He rents a room to a friend who is also a student. Raj is liable for the council tax, but as both of them are students, the flat is exempt and the bill is, therefore, nil.