Council Tax is payable on every property unless it is exempt from paying it for some reason. Some students may have to pay Council Tax, but most will not.
Which properties are exempt from Council Tax?
Properties exempt from Council Tax include:
• University-owned halls of residence (however, self-contained flats for tutors are classed as separate dwellings).
• Accommodation in which all the occupiers are full-time students or ‘relevant persons’.
Who counts as a ‘relevant person’?
A full-time student is a 'relevant person'. In addition, a ‘relevant person’ is a student’s spouse or dependant who is not a British citizen and who is prevented, by certain terms from working or from claiming benefits. Properties occupied only by an international student and their spouse and family should usually be exempt.
Who counts as a full-time student?
Registered undergraduate and postgraduate students on courses classed as full-time by the University will count as ‘students’.
If you are taking time out of a full-time course and intending to return, this is known as ‘intercalation’, and during this time you should still be regarded as a student. You should get a letter from Student Services confirming your course, and that you are taking time out of your course and intend to return to it.
If you are completing your PhD and are in your thesis-pending period, you should seek advice as you may be liable for Council Tax.
What if you live with a non-student?
If a full-time student lives in the same property as someone who is 18 or over and who is not a full-time student or ‘relevant person’, it means that it is likely Council Tax should be paid.
However, full-time students are not usually jointly and severally liable for the Council Tax if someone else is attracting the Council Tax to the property, and they have equal status in the house with the full-time student (i.e. joint tenants).
Who is liable to pay Council Tax?
The liable person(s) is the resident(s) of the dwelling with the highest legal interest in the dwelling – there is a ‘hierarchy of liability’.
The liable person(s) will be either one or more of the occupiers of the property or someone who lives elsewhere e.g. your landlord.
How does the Council find out that you are a student?
At the end of October (and again in February), the University sends a list of all registered full-time students to the local councils listed below. If you live in one of these areas, your name should automatically appear on the list and your council should accept this as confirmation that you are a full-time student.
If your council asks for a certificate, you should tell them you are a full-time student at the University of Nottingham and that your name should be on the list:
- Nottingham City Council: 0115 915 4851
- Broxtowe: 0115 917 7777
- Rushcliffe: 0115 981 9911
- Gedling: 0115 901 3950
- NW Leicestershire: 01530 454499
- Erewash: 0115 907 2244
- Derby City Council: 01332 293 111
If you do not live in one of these areas and your council ask for a certificate, contact Student Services.
How much is Council Tax?
The amount of Council Tax charged by the local council depends on various factors including the value of the property compared to other dwellings in the area; whether a discount is available; whether the liable person can claim Council Tax Benefit and whether any other reductions apply.
A discount of 25% applies if there is only one person resident in a property where council tax needs to be paid. When working out the number of residents in a property certain people are disregarded, including full-time students.
What happens when I finish my degree?
If you have completed your degree and are no longer registered as a student, it is likely you will be liable to pay council tax. For final year undergraduates, the last day of the summer term is the official last day of your student status. This means that after the end of term, you will usually be liable to pay council tax until the end of your tenancy agreement (even if you are going to a different postgraduate course next year). So, at the end of your tenancy you should make sure you check to see whether you are liable and how much you need to pay if you are. The local Councils do chase students for any Council Tax outstanding, so make sure you look out for letters from them.
For more advice and information about the Council Tax, please contact a Welfare Adviser at Students' Union Advice.
Directgov: Students and Council Tax
NUS: Information and advice on Council Tax
Citizens Advice: Information on Council Tax
UKCISA – International students and Council Tax