Council Tax & Students
What is council tax?
Council Tax is a property-based tax paid for public services provided by the local council. There is one charge per property, i.e. a house, flat or caravan. The charge is issued to the liable person(s) who must pay the charge and collect any contributions from residents.
Do full time students have to pay council tax?
Not if you live in university halls, or in a house where everyone is classed as a full-time student for Council Tax purposes, you’ll be exempt from paying Council Tax. To be classed as Full time your course must last at least 24 weeks. If it is less you will have to pay council tax.
How do I tell the council I’m exempt?
You can get your free ‘Council Tax Exemption Certificate’ from the Student Records (Academic Registry, Camden) or print it off from RoVeR, once you are enrolled to confirm your full time student status.
Definition of “student” for council tax purposes
You are usually considered a full-time student for Council Tax purposes if:
- you attend a university or college course lasting for at least one academic year - as long as you attend for at least 24 weeks out of the year and study for at least 21 hours per week during term time
- Once your course has started, you continue to be a student until your course finishes or you leave it (withdraw).
- If you are repeating a full time course on a part time basis or have temporarily suspended your studies you should still be treated as a full time student for council tax purposes. This also applies to students on a placement year.
- You won’t be considered a full-time student if you’re doing a course related to your job - such as day release.
What if I live with people who aren’t students?
If there’s someone in the household who’s not a full-time student the household will receive a bill but may qualify for a discount (25%) on the full amount. If you’re a full time student sharing with the owner-occupier or you live in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO)* you won’t be liable for Council Tax. In these cases, responsibility for Council Tax lies with the owner(s). They may pass the costs on through your rent but they cannot pass on the council Tax bill simply because you are living there. A full Council Tax bill is based on two adults living in a household. If there’s fewer than two, the household can get a discount. Where there’s a mixture of students and non-students the council will only be legally entitled to pursue non full time students for payment of Council Tax. The full time students’ names will be taken off the bill as long as they provide their exemption certificate. If you live and share basic facilities with your landlord (i.e. bathroom, kitchen) it will be their responsibility to pay the Council Tax. However, some landlords include the amount within your rent to meet this cost.
* ‘HMO’ is a house with separate households and the tenants have individual tenancies. The tenants may share some facilities but live separately.
What about during the summer?
Any summer vacation(s) occurring within the course are included as exempt even if you take up full time work. However you are liable for council tax at the end of your course or between two different courses, e.g. degree to postgraduate.
You will become liable from the end of the summer term, not the date of your graduation.
What if I own my own house?
If you own your own house and rent it out to non-students you may be liable to pay Council Tax.
What if I withdraw from my course?
You will then be liable to pay Council Tax. You become liable to pay during the months you stay in your property e.g. if you leave your course in November but stay in your house until February you are liable for council tax November – February. Always seek advice as you may be able to claim a 25% discount or Council Tax Benefit.
What if I suspend my studies?
If you have to suspend studies (e.g. due to illness) then you are still classed as a student. This is known as intercalating (temporarily withdrawn). As an intercalating student you have not completed your course, and nor have you abandoned it or in any way been prevented by the university from attending. A student remains a student until they complete, withdraw or are formally withdrawn from their course of study; therefore any period of suspension/interruption should not affect their eligibility to council tax exemption. Provided that the person remains enrolled at the educational establishment, they will continue to fall within the definition of a full-time student.
What if I am an international student?
If you are a single person and you share with students, live alone, live in lodgings or halls of residence no Council Tax will be payable. If you live with your partner and they are not a British Citizen you won’t have to pay Council Tax if you’re the only occupiers of the property and are unable (by the terms of your leave) to take paid work or claim State Benefits.
Please don’t try to claim any State Benefits as you may prejudice your application for further leave to remain in the U.K. Always seek advice first.
What happens if I don’t pay my council tax?
If you don’t pay your Council Tax the council can begin legal proceedings against you through the Magistrate’s court. Non-payers can go to prison. If you agree to pay by monthly instalments and miss three payments you will have to pay the whole amount of Council Tax due. If you are threatened with legal action or receive a summons, seek advice immediately.
For further information on Council tax please contact your Local Council or the Advice Centre.
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