Council tax on a rental property – what to do when moving in or out

Small model home next to coins, denoting council tax on a rental property

If you’re a tenant in England, Scotland or Wales, you’ll need to pay council tax on a rental property. Find out the rules for renters.

If you’re 18 or over, not in full-time education and live in a rental property, you’ll likely need to pay council tax.

Council tax is an annual fee that you pay to your local authority for local services such as rubbish collection, street lighting and park maintenance.

How much council tax on a rental property costs will depend on where you move to. It may be unexciting compared to the joy of moving into a new home, but it’s important to be aware of your responsibility so you don’t end up missing payments.

Here, we explain everything you need to know about council tax as a renter.

Find out what council tax is and how much you need to pay. It’ll also help to know what council tax band you fall under.

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How to register for council tax as a renter

When you move into a rental property, you need to contact the local council. You can find your local council at GOV.UK by popping in your postcode, which is handy if you’re not sure of the exact council.

Moving out of another rental property at the same time? Then you need to tell the council for the old area you’re moving away from if it falls under another local authority.

This way you’ll be correctly registered to pay the right amount of tax.

Check your local authority website for when you need to contact them as it’ll vary. For example, Camden says residents are required to tell the council within 21 days. Leeds asks residents to contact them less than 14 days before moving.

Your local authority website will have a ‘change of address’ page or online form to fill in. Be ready to share information such as:

  • Your moving date
  • Your new address, so the council can send your final bill
  • Bank details if you want to set up a direct debit
  • Landlord or agent’s details
  • Details of everyone aged 16 and over that lives with you

When do I start paying council tax when I move house?

You pay council tax from the day that you move into your new address.

  • If you’re moving into a rental property for the first time, you’ll have to set up a direct debit.
  • If you’re moving into a new rental property from another rental property in the same local authority area, you can use the same direct debit.
  • If your new home is in a different local authority area, you’ll need to set up a new direct debit.

If there happens to be an overlap in the dates you rent your old home and your new home, you might have to pay council tax on those two properties for a short period.

If you don’t act in advance, you’ll eventually receive a ‘new occupier’ letter. The council will backdate any payments you owe, so you could end up with a hefty bill.

If you’ve overpaid council tax for your old address and are moving within the same area, the council will usually use the credit to reduce what you owe for your new address.

If you’ve overpaid council tax for your old address and are moving out of the area, your council will issue a refund when they close your account.

If you’re moving into a property you own, check out the council tax rules when moving house.

How much council tax will I pay on a rental property?

The rates for council tax are set by 332 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has a different system of rates.

The annual council tax cost is usually split into 10 monthly payments. February and March are typically the two months where you don’t pay council tax, though this may vary depending on the payment plan you’ve agreed with your council.

Council tax is based on the value of your property on 1 April 1991, or 1 April 2003 in Wales, and split into bands. The higher its value, the higher your band and the more council tax you pay. See the full breakdown of council tax bands in England, Scotland and Wales.

The average Band D council tax set by local authorities in England for 2023/24 is £2,065, though it can vary significantly in different areas. The average Band D council tax for Scotland is £1,347, and £1,879 in Wales.

Can I get a council tax reduction or exemption?

Some renters are exempt from paying council tax, such as full-time students and some live-in carers.

Discounts and reductions are available in some cases. For example, if you or someone you live with has a disability, you may be able to drop a band and pay less council tax.

You can also get a discount if you live by yourself, or the other people you live with are ‘disregarded’ for council tax purposes.

Find out how to get a council tax reduction.