Lewisham Council Homepage Skip navigation

Who is liable to pay council tax

Find out if you are liable to pay council tax.

Every home gets one council tax bill, regardless of what kind of property it is and if it is owned or rented.

If only one person lives in a dwelling, they will be the person liable to pay council tax.

If two or more people live in a dwelling, there is a hierarchy to work out who is liable to pay.

The person highest on this list is responsible for paying the council tax bill:

  1. a resident owner-occupier who owns either the leasehold or freehold of all or part of the property

  2. a resident statutory or secure tenant

  3. a resident licensee

  4. a resident

  5. an owner where no one is resident.


A resident is anyone aged 18 years or over who lives in the dwelling as their only or main home. To work out if a dwelling is your main home we consider factors such as how much time you spend there and if it is your family home. You cannot have more than one main home for council tax purposes.

Joint liability

Two or more people can be jointly liable for council tax at one dwelling.

This situation applies to:

  • people with the same legal interest in the dwelling (such as joint tenants or joint owners)

  • residents who are married, live together as husband and wife or who are civil partners.

When the owner is liable

In some cases the owner, not the residents, is liable to pay the council tax for the following types of property:

  • residential care homes, nursing homes or hostels

  • houses of multiple occupation

  • properties inhabited by religious communities

  • properties occupied by resident staff

  • properties used by ministers of religion

  • dwellings occupied solely by asylum seekers.

Find out about discounts and exemptions for certain people and properties.

You may also be interested in ...

Council tax reductions

Check if you are eligible for reductions