If you live in university halls, or in a house where everyone is classed as a full-time student for Council Tax purposes, you’ll be exempt from paying Council Tax. The rules are different if you live with someone who’s not a full-time student – but your household could still get a discount.
This section aims to give an overview of the Council Tax system and how it applies to students, explaining the circumstances in which Council Tax is payable and how you could be liable. However, if you require any further information, please contact the Student Money Service.
This page is accurate for students on courses accredited by the University of South Wales (formerly Glamorgan). It has not yet been updated to include advice for students whose courses are accredited by the University of Wales (i.e. courses based in Newport).
What is Council Tax?
Council Tax was introduced in 1993 as a tax payable on dwellings as opposed to a personal tax. In general terms a dwelling is any property which is wholly or partly used as living accommodation. If a property contains more than one unit, for example a house converted into self-contained flats, each flat is classed as a single dwelling and attracts its own Council Tax bill. If a property contains rooms occupied as individual tenancies with some shared facilities then the whole house is classed as a single dwelling in multiple occupation and attracts one single Council Tax bill.
Local authorities set and collect Council Tax to pay for local services provided, such as waste collection, the fire and police services. Council Tax bills are based upon the value of the property and the number of people over 18 who live there.
Do students have to pay Council Tax?
If all the adults in a property are full time students, they will be disregarded for a Council Tax assessment and the property will be exempt and no Council Tax will be payable. Where a property is occupied by a mixture of full time students, part time and non-students, the property is NOT exempt.
No Council Tax is normally payable in:
- University halls of residence
- A shared house or flat where all of the residents are full time students and each resident pays rent separately
- If you live in a bedsit or rent a room from a landlord, the landlord is normally responsible for payment of Council Tax. However we do advise you to check this in advance with your landlord.
Are part-time students exempt from Council Tax?
Generally part time students are not exempt from paying Council Tax. However you may be entitled to a reduction if you are in receipt of other benefits. Please contact your local authority for further information.
What if I live with non-students?
If you are sharing a house with a non-student or part-time student who is working or claiming Council Tax benefit, you should not be liable for Council Tax, however, they will be. Since April 2004, full time students are no longer jointly and severally liable for Council Tax as they may be for other bills.
What if I live with a spouse and/or dependants?
Non-student partners/spouses and/or dependants of students may be eligible for Council Tax benefit or discounts. Please check with your council for more information.
In the case of spouses or dependants who are nationals of non-EU and non-EEA countries, if the terms of their leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom prevent the spouse/dependant either from taking paid employment or from claiming benefits, then they are exempt from Council Tax, according to a High Court ruling – i.e. if the visa of a spouse or dependant has a “no recourse to public funds” condition, they are exempt from Council Tax.
I am a PhD student ‘writing up’ my thesis
Students who are ‘writing up’ are liable for Council Tax if they are not registered as full time students at their institution even if they use and study full time within their department. However, some Local Authorities will recognise that a ‘writing up’ student is studying full time if their supervisor provides a letter of support.
Council Tax exemption certificates
You can request a Council Tax exemption certificate online, through Glamlife.
Please note, the letter will not usually be available until the first teaching week of term – this is the week commencing 1st October 2012. Please check regularly during this week and if the button is still not available and you believe you are eligible for Council Tax exemption, contact your faculty. Returning students will be able to view their previous year’s letter until the new letter is available.
To request a letter you will need to be logged into Glamlife and go to the Your Account tab:
You will then need to go to the ‘Academic details’ link. On the Academic Details page, you will see an option to request a Council Tax exemption certificate.
When you have requested the certificate you will then go to a further page explaining how you print and/or save the document.
How do I apply for Council Tax exemption?
Students living within Rhondda Cynon Taff authority may apply for exemption online by visiting the Online Council Tax exemption page.
Students living in the Cardiff Authority should contact C2C (Connect to Cardiff) on 029 2087 2087 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Students living elsewhere can access the Government’s Council Tax webpages for further information.
What to do if you are sent a Council Tax bill
It is imperative that if you are sent a Council Tax bill you do not ignore it even if you are exempt. Council Tax legislation provides the local authority with extensive powers to enforce payment and a court order maybe levied against you for non payment.
You will need to contact the relevant authority (details of which are given below) to ensure that the Council Tax department has applied the student exemptions for the correct dates as well as ensuring that all occupants in shared accommodation have provided student exemption certificates.
What happens when I finish my course?
Council Tax exemption ends when you complete your course, so it is important to check your course and term dates.
Former students who are liable to pay Council Tax may be able to claim Council Tax benefit dependent on individual circumstances. Please contact your local authority for further information.
Local Authority contacts
Find your Local Authority online on the Directgov website.
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