Council tax when moving house – what you need to do

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

Here’s how council tax works when you move house, including how to cancel, who to inform and whether you’ll be due a refund for overpaid council tax.

Council tax may be the last thing on your mind when you’re packing boxes to move home. But it’s important to be in the know about your council tax responsibility so you don’t end up paying for something you shouldn’t – or not paying for something you should.

How much council tax you pay in your new home depends on where you move to, and which council tax band the property falls under. You may also be due a refund on the tax you paid on the property you’re saying goodbye to. 

We explain everything you need to know.

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Do I need to cancel council tax when moving house?

When you move house, you need to tell your council if you’re moving within the local area, or the council for the new area that you’re moving to. 

This way you’ll be registered correctly to pay the right amount of tax, and ideally avoid any council tax overlap when moving house.

If you’re not sure which council you should be contacting, you can find out at GOV.UK.

Legally, you must tell the local authority that you’re responsible for paying council tax within 21 days of moving to your new home. If you fail to do this, you could be hit with a fine of up to £70. A further penalty of £280 can be imposed if you fail to supply information that the council asks for. 

If you like to get things done quickly, check on the council’s website if there are any guidelines around how early you can register for council tax. This is likely to vary by council.

Some local authorities have a backlog of council tax forms to process. For this reason, it’s a good idea to get your form in as early as possible within the council’s timeframe.

Where can I update my details?

Your local council’s website will have a ‘change of address’ page where you can fill in your details, or you may need to download a form. Be ready to share information such as: 

  • Your moving date
  • Your new address
  • Your old address
  • Details of the new tenant, owner or landlord of your old address
  • Bank details if you want to set up a direct debit
  • Landlord or agent’s details if you’re a tenant
  • Joint tenant details if you’re a joint tenant
  • Completion statement if you’re the homeowner
  • Joint owner’s details if you’re a joint homeowner 
  • Full names of everyone aged 16 and over that lives with you

If you’re a tenant, find out more about council tax when renting a property. Also, it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to pay council tax if you’re a student in full-time education.

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

You start paying council tax from the day that you move into your new address. If your new home is in the same local authority, your direct debit can continue at your new address. This way you can expect to pay at the same time of the month as you did at your old address.

If you don’t tell the council you have moved in and register for council tax, you will eventually receive a ‘new occupier’ letter. The council will backdate any payments owed and you could end up with a hefty bill. It could also add a fine on top.

How do I cancel my council tax if I move house?

To cancel your council tax, go to the ‘change of address’ page or form on your local authority’s website. You’ll need to include forwarding addresses for every adult on the property that pays council tax.

If your new home is in the same local authority area, you can continue using the same direct debit for your new address. If your new home is in a different local authority area, you’ll need to set up a new payment method.

If you were renting the home that you’re moving out of, you will no longer be responsible for the council tax there. 

However, if there is a crossover 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 own the home you are moving from and leaving it empty, you’ll still have to pay council tax (at a reduced rate) until someone moves in or you sell it. Find out how to get a council tax reduction.

Can I get a refund for overpaid council tax at my old address?

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. Most councils issue automatic refunds, but you may need to fill in a form to request it. Councils generally aim to process council tax refunds within 10 working days, but it can take longer than this.

Even if you don’t think you’ve overpaid, it’s worth checking. Most people pay their annual council tax bill in 10 monthly instalments. So if you’ve paid up to April but move out earlier in the year, your council tax account should be in credit.

How much council tax will I need to pay?

Council tax is based on the value of your home: the higher its value, the higher your ‘band’, and the more council tax you pay. It’s also based on where in the UK you live, as local authorities set their own council tax rates.

See the full list of council tax bands for England, Scotland and Wales.

If the property you’re moving into doesn’t have a council tax band for some reason, your local council will arrange for your property to be assessed.

Find out what council tax is for, and how much you need to pay.

It’s also worth knowing that you may be able to move down a council tax band if you have a disability, or live with someone who does. You may also be able to get a reduction if you’re a live-in carer.