Council Tax is a charge made by Local Authorities to all households within their borough. The value of the property and the number of residents within it will generally determine how much is charged from year to year. It funds services such as libraries, refuse collection, policing and fire services. It can prove to be an expensive bill, but fortunately most full-time students don’t have to pay it.
This is called Council Tax Exemption.

In this article we cover a range of situations which may affect your status and eligibility for exemption:

Living in student halls
If you are living in University Halls of Residence you will generally not need to pay, as they are classed as buildings ‘occupied only or mainly by students’.

However, some private companies that provide ‘student type’ accommodation (including some of the intercollegiate halls) may attract a charge.

King’s Residences are exempt from Council Tax, but other student accommodation may not be and so you should check with them before you sign up to anything.

Living in private residences
If you live in a house or flat where everyone is a full-time student, you don’t have to pay Council Tax.

You should apply for exemption upon moving in. This can be done by sending a copy of your Confirmation of Study letter to your local council. Find out how in I need to prove I’m a student.

Some students, however, may have to pay or contribute to this bill.
This will depend on:

  • The type of property you live in
  • Who else lives in the property
  • Your mode of study

Living with non-students
If you live with one other adult who is not a full-time student, the property you are in will likely be charged for Council Tax. However, you may be able to get the rate reduced by 25% by informing your Local Authority that you (as an individual) are exempt.

If you live with more than one non full-time student, the property will be liable for the full Council Tax charge. Your student status means that you are not legally liable to pay Council Tax, but your flatmates may still expect you to contribute. It is important to discuss this with potential flatmates before you commit to living together.

Studying part-time
Students registered on a part-time course cannot claim an exemption. However, students registered on a full-time course, who attend part-time for a period should still qualify. Seek advice if you think this may apply to you.

Interrupting studies
If you interrupt your studies, you should still retain your student status for Council Tax purposes if you were previously enrolled as a full-time student.

You will remain a student until you complete, withdraw or are expelled from the course.

While interrupted, your automatic Confirmation of Study won’t work for you; this is because it’s programmed only to work for fully enrolled students. However, we can still provide a letter for you for Council Tax Exemption – to make this request please log a case and provide as much detail as possible.

Studying on a visa
International and EU students fall into the same categories as Home students with regards to Council Tax. If you live in a property attracting a Council Tax charge you may have to pay, regardless of the fact you are not a UK national.

If you bring a partner with you to the UK on a visa, they will be exempt from Council Tax charges provided their visa states that they have ‘no recourse to public funds’ or ‘no right to work’. Make sure you send evidence of these restrictions to your Local Authority so that they are aware.

This does not apply to dependents who are EEA or Swiss Nationals, British Nationals or those who have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK themselves.

Claiming welfare benefits
Where you are in a property that does attract a Council Tax charge and you are on a low income, there is Council Tax Support or Second Adult Rebates available from Local Authorities to help reduce the Council Tax Bill.

However, this is a complicated area, particularly as most full-time students are prohibited from claiming welfare benefits whilst studying, so please seek advice from the Money & Housing Advice team if you need support with this.

Received a bill and not sure what to do?
Call your Local Authority immediately and find out what has gone wrong.

Important to know: It is your responsibility to ensure the Local Authority has the correct documentation. Have all the discounts or exemptions been applied correctly? If the issue is not straight forward, make an urgent appointment with the Money & Housing Advice team.

If you receive a bailiff or court letter seek advice urgently.
Know your rights so you know how to handle the situation.
Speak to our advisers or contact Shelter, they have a free phone helpline for initial advice and webchat.