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What is Council Tax and who has to pay it?

Council Tax is a tax based on occupation and/or ownership of domestic property and in the Swansea area is levied and collected by our Council.

The tax is imposed on all domestic dwellings and assumes that 2 adults occupy each property.

Who has to pay Council Tax?

As a general rule it is the occupier of a property who has to pay Council Tax and normally this will be the owner or tenant.

What is the definition of an occupier?

An occupier is someone who has their 'sole or main residence' in the property - in other words, it's their home.

What if my house is empty most of the time?

You may still be regarded as the occupier, even if you spend considerable amounts of time away from home, for example if you work away from home or work abroad.

What if no-one lives there?

If a property is unoccupied, meaning no-one actually lives there, the person who has the legal right to occupy the property becomes liable for Council Tax.

In most cases this will be the owner of the property.

What if more than one person is liable?

It's quite possible that more than one person will be liable to pay, for example:

  • where there are joint owners or tenants
  • partners of owners and tenants are also jointly liable for the charge eg husbands, wives and civil partners.

Where there is more than one person liable to pay Council Tax, the council can look for payment for all or part of the debt from any of the liable persons even if they have already paid what they consider to be their share.

Are there any exceptions to this?

There are some exceptions to this rule, when it is the owners that are responsible for paying the Council Tax:

  • houses in multiple occupation
  • nursing homes, care homes and some hostels providing a high level of care
  • vicarages and other homes where a minister of religion lives and works
  • religious communities such as monasteries or convents
  • properties which are used for staff accommodation
  • properties that are occupied by asylum seekers
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