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Definition of sole or main residence for Council Tax

For Council Tax purposes you are considered to live at your 'sole or main residence'.

As most people only have one residence in most cases there is no problem. Questions can arise, however, when people have the use of more than one residence or where people spend long periods away from home because of work or extended holidays. Even if you spend a long time away from your usual home because of work or holidays we will usually treat it as your main residence for Council Tax. We normally consider couples to have one main residence even if both own or rent different properties. There is no definition of "sole or main" residence in statute law.

In such cases, we have to establish the facts as far as possible and make a decision. This may involve asking personal questions about your relationships and lifestyle and we are sorry if this offends you. Documentary evidence may also be asked for.


In the case of married and unmarried couples even if you each own or rent a property you will be treated as having one main residence for which you will pay the full Council Tax.

Most cases are relatively straightforward and we are happy for you to decide what is your 'main residence'. It is, however our responsibility to decide such questions and difficulties can arise especially where discounts/exemptions are concerned.

Long absences because of work

You may have a main residence but also own or rent another property nearer your place of work which you use during the week returning at weekends to your main residence. If you are a salesman, a member of the armed services or a merchant seamen, etc. you may spend much of the year away from your 'main residence'.

The courts have decided that in such situations the time spent away from your main residence is largely irrelevant and that your main residence is usually where you 'intend to return' and 'where you would live if not for the demands of your work'. This is generally where your partner and children (if any) live.

Extended holidays

If you have a main residence and go on an extended holiday, if you intend to return we will treat you as having your main residence at the property you leave.

A common situation is where an adult son or daughter leave their parents address to travel for a year or so before going on to university. In such cases, unless there is evidence of their intention not to return at the end of their holiday, their main residence will be considered to be with their parents.

Whole families occasionally take extended breaks but if they keep a property available for their return it remains their main residence.

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