Council tax for student properties can be a complex subject however in most cases the situation can be easily determined and any problems resolved.
In a dwelling occupied only by full-time students they are usually in the enviable position of having no council tax to pay. The property, once proof has been provided to the local authority, may be exempt under a Class N exemption. The situation however is not always straightforward and there are specific situations where a Class N exemption may not apply even where all of the people living in the property are full-time students.
Sharing with a non student
Where a student lives with a non student who is a joint tenant or partner then the student may not need to pay the Council Tax charge – it depends on what legal responsibility the student has in the property (and that of any resident partner) as to who is actually liable for the Council Tax charge on the property. This is governed by Sections 6 and 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (for England and Wales) and not subject to any delegated powers for a Local Authority to change determinations made under this section.
If the other occupier is not a joint tenant or a partner then there will be a Council Tax charge due but the actual charge which is due will depend on the exact circumstances. This is governed by Section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (for England and Wales) and not subject to any delegated powers for a Local Authority to change determinations made under this section.
Can a student ever be liable for the Council Tax charge ?
A student may be held liable for the Council Tax charge on a property in some cases. This occurs if the student is the owner or they are the tenant but have other non tenants living with them. For example, a owner-occupier student has their non-student adult child living with them. The parent is disregarded but still remains liable as the owner. This is governed by Section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (for England and Wales) and not subject to any delegated powers for a Local Authority to change determinations made under this section.
The situation regarding a student being held liable for the Council Tax charge may also occur where there is a resident partner but the situation depends on the legal responsibility they each have in the property. This is governed by Section 9 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (for England and Wales) and not subject to any delegated powers for a Local Authority to change determinations made under this section.
Remember that any clauses in a contract for Council Tax payment cannot alter that determined in legislation.
Houses in Multiple Occupation
Where the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) the same situation applies regarding entitlement to discounts and exemptions. The onus however is on the landlord to provide any proof and claim any relevant reductions. For a HMO the landlord is legally responsible for any council tax charge which is due or may become due.
Any clauses in a contract cannot alter that determined in legislation but the landlord may then use a county court to recover any monies owed under the contract.
What if my university is in a different council area ?
It does not matter if the university you attend falls in to a different English local authority from where you are living. What matters is that you meet the criteria required to be regarded as full time student. If the university is outside of England then you need to check that you still meet the required criteria.
Cessation of an exemption
Students should be aware that any Class N exemption will end as soon as soon as any resident is no longer a full-time student. Once this happens the Council Tax liability, and exemption entitlement, needs to be re-assessed.
Vacation from the property
The situation will also change where all of the occupiers have vacated a property – more information.
Council Tax Penalty
Advice & Assistance from LGFA92
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This article is solely the view of LGFA92, the Council Tax experts, based on our interpretation of legislation. Your local authority is free to dispute this view. A binding decision may require the intervention of a valuation tribunal.