What is council tax?

Council tax is a tax on domestic properties collected by us and used to pay for local services such as recycling and refuse collections, schools, roads and street lighting. Although we collect council tax we keep only a small percentage with the remainder going to Surrey County Council, Surrey Police and parish councils.

Who pays council tax?

Council tax is usually payable by the owner-occupier or the tenant of a property. Some tenancy agreements state that the landlord will pay the council tax, but the tenant is still responsible in law. We will usually send the bill to the tenant.

Where there are two or more people who are joint owners or joint tenants, they are each responsible for paying, even if there is only one name on the bill. Similarly, married couples, civil partners and people living together as a couple are jointly liable for the bill while they both live at the property, regardless of whether they have the same legal interest in the property.

There are certain circumstances where the owner of the property has to pay, these being for:

  • Houses in multiple occupation eg properties divided into bedsits.
  • Dwellings occupied by resident staff in domestic service.
  • Residential care homes.
  • Religious communities.

Where there are two or more people who are joint owners or joint tenants, they are each responsible for paying, whether or not the bill is addressed to them. Similarly, married couples, civil partners and people living together as a couple are jointly liable for the bill while they both live at the property, regardless of whether they have the same legal interest in the property.

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