Do students have to pay council tax in rented property?

Broadly speaking, students who are in full time education at a college or university in England, Scotland or Wales will not have to pay Council Tax when living in rented property. However, it can be a confusing matter, and there are certain important factors to consider. 

So, do students have to pay council tax in rented property?

Are full time students exempt from council tax?

In the normal course of events, almost anyone aged over 18 will be expected to pay council tax. However, there are certain groups of people who are not counted – a process otherwise known as ‘disregarded’ – for Council Tax purposes. In other words, the government will calculate the council tax as if the ‘disregarded’ person doesn’t live in the property. 

Full time students are among those disregarded people with regard to the calculation of council tax. Others who are ‘disregarded’ include people aged under 18, those on certain apprenticeship schemes, and student nurses, among others. People who are less than 25 years old and get funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency will also be ‘disregarded’, as will those in full time education who are 18 or 19 years old.

In relation to full time students specifically, for households where everyone is a full time student – as is often the case in many properties that students rent – there will be no need for anyone to pay council tax. Even those in such circumstances who do receive a council tax bill will be entitled to apply for an exemption. 

Similarly, landlords renting to full time students will usually not have to pay council tax. Read our guide to learn more about when landlords are liable to pay council tax.

What counts as a full time student for Council Tax purposes? 

It’s also important to know who is considered a full time student. For a given person to count as a full time student – and therefore ‘disregarded’ from responsibility for Council Tax payment – their course is required to: 

  • Last a minimum of one year 
  • Involve a minimum of 21 hours’ study 

For those students who are aged under 20 and studying for a qualification up to A-level, their course must: 

  • Be at least three months in length 
  • Involve at least 12 hours’ weekly study

Do students have to pay council tax in rented property if they share with someone who isn’t a full time student? 

If one of your property’s tenants is a full time student – and therefore ‘disregarded’ from paying council tax – but they share with someone who does need to pay council tax, that person will receive a bill. 

However, the government will calculate the liability for the tax as if the student wasn’t there, so the remaining tenant can expect to be treated as if they were renting the property alone. They are therefore likely to receive a 25% discount on their council tax bill, given that this is the size of discount offered to those who live on their own in a property.

As for if there are two people living in a property who are liable for council tax, and sharing with a full time student, the aforementioned two people will probably need to pay the entirety of the council tax bill. This is because a full council tax bill is calculated on the basis of at least two adults living in a home. Again, though, the full time student will not be liable, as they will be ‘disregarded’.

When might students be required to pay Council Tax in a rented property? 

There is a good chance that the typical part-time student will not be ‘disregarded’, and will therefore need to pay council tax. However, it might be possible for them to get a reduction in their council tax on the basis of other factors, such as if they are the only person in their household who is not a full time student. 

It might even be possible for a given part-time student to be exempt from council tax if they are still spending more than 21 hours a week studying. However, students who believe they might be exempt in such a way are advised to double-check the situation with the local council.

It is also important to note that undergraduate students who are moving straight onto postgraduate study in the next academic year will probably need to pay council tax during the summer months after the conclusion of their undergraduate course, and before their postgraduate course begins. This is because, technically, they will have ceased to be a student during those months. 

Meanwhile, full time students taking time out from their course – for example, due to illness or family commitments – should still be regarded as full time students for council tax purposes, and therefore ‘disregarded’, if they remain registered on their course due to an intention to go back. 

If you’re renting to students, it’s important to put your mind at rent with student landlord insurance. A comprehensive policy can help cover you against things happening in your property when your tenant is the resident. Our team at CIA Landlords would be happy to call you back and present you with a competitive quote.

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