Living in the UK
Council tax and students
Council tax is a local tax on residential property. There are certain exemptions from paying the tax which are based on the type of people who live in the property.
A property is exempt from council tax if it is wholly occupied by full-time university or college students. Student halls of residence are automatically exempt.
If your property is not exempt, certain people, including full-time students, are disregarded. This means that the council tax is calculated as if you do not live there. This may mean that whoever is liable to pay the council tax can get a discount.
You are a full-time student for council tax purposes if your course:
- lasts at least one calendar or academic year for at least 24 weeks out of the year, and
- normally involves at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience per week during term time.( Citizens Advice Bureau Advice Guide)
Normally, the University will notify the council of your student status automatically, however, this relies on you keeping the information on the University system up to date. If your term-time address is incorect, you may receive a bill from Charnwood Borough Council for council tax. You will then need to prove you are a full-time student by obtaining a certificate from Student Enquiries in the Rutland Building.
Placements/leave of absence
Students on placement or leave of absence will normally not be liable for council tax. You will need to get a certificate from Student Enquiries and hand this to the local authority in which you are living.
When you might have to pay council tax
- If you are between courses (e.g. the summer between undergraduate and postgraduate study) you will not count as a student for that period, and therefore will be liable for Council Tax.
- If you are on a part-time course such as a Masters Degree you are taking over 2 years instead of one.
- If you are an international student who arrives in the UK before your course starts or stay after your course has finished, and live off campus, you may be charged council tax for this period.
- If you are on one of the Universities pre-sessional courses, you are not considered to be on a ‘full time course of education' as pre-sessional courses do not last for a whole academic year. This is the case even if you are moving onto another course at the end of the pre-sessional course. If you live in private rented accommodation during a pre-sessional course you will become liable to pay Council Tax. When your main course starts, you will then be able to claim the exemption.
- If you live with a landlord, they will be the person liable to pay council tax, but they might include this in your contract. If you have agreed the contract you will have to pay the council tax.
- If you share your house with non-students (including UK/EU spouses/partners) they may be liable to pay the council tax bill. If there is only one non-student in the house they may be entitled to a single person discount on their liability of 25%.
What do I do if I get a council tax bill?
Do not ignore a council tax bill if you receive one, as you can be taken to court for non-payment of a Council Tax bill, and could end up having to pay a large fine, regardless of whether you were exempt or not.
In thjis situation, make an appointment to see one of our advisers.
For the purposes of Council Tax a ‘full-time course of education’ is defined by legislation as one:
- which subsists for at least one academic year; and
- which persons undertaking it are normally required by the educational establishment concerned to undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience -
- of at least 24 weeks in each year; and
- which taken together amount to an average of at least 21 hours per week each year.
The University’s pre-sessional English courses do not meet all of the requirements above to be considered ‘a full-time course of education’, so students on these courses are not considered students for Council Tax purposes. If you live in a hall of residence during this previous there is no Council Tax due as halls are exempt in any case. If you live outside of halls during a pre-sessional course you may become liable to pay Council Tax.
Once you have committed to renting a house from a Private Landlord you will be liable to pay Council Tax, and the University will not be able to issue you with a certificate to exempt you, as you do not meet the requirements as set down by legislation.
Once you start your main degree course, you will then become exempt from Council Tax. You can request a Council Tax exemption certificate from Student Enquiries, in the Rutland Building.