When do you start paying council tax after buying a house?

When do you start paying council tax after buying a house

This page was last updated on 1 December 2021

When do you start paying council tax after buying a house In 2021?

If you have recently bought a new home and are ready to move in, there are many things that should be considered in the lead-up as well as during your initial months in your new residence. One of the most important questions you might ask yourself upon buying a new house is when to start paying council tax.

What is council tax?

Council tax is the tax collected by the local authority or council on domestic property. The money gained from council tax is then used to provide public services such as waste disposal, social care, emergency services etc.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

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Who has to pay council tax?

If you rent or own a house or flat in the UK and are over 18 you are responsible for paying council tax on your property (although this does not apply to full-time students).

You do not have to make any kind of council tax payment until you receive a bill with your name, or unless you are jointly or severally liable and receive a taxpayer’s notice.

If you move into an area, it is important to inform the local authority so that they send you your council tax bill and provide information on your council tax band.

It must be noted that not every property is liable for council tax. If you are unsure about the status of your property or think it might be exempt from paying council tax, you should contact your local council so that they can provide more information or advice on this matter.

Am I liable to pay council tax if I am a tenant, not a homeowner?

Council tax is paid by the people or person living in a property (if they are over 18). In the event that you are renting, it is you and not your landlord who is liable for paying the property’s council tax bill.

What is a council tax band?

The tax band a property falls under is defined by the Valuation Office Agency. This is determined by the property’s value from 1991 in England and Scotland, and 2003 in Wales. The amount of council tax payment to be paid on a property depends on what band it falls under. Local councils keep a record of all domestic property in the area and their valuation band. Therefore, once you inform your local council of your new residence, you should expect a letter containing this information shortly thereafter.


In the event that you think your property has been incorrectly recorded, It is possible to challenge your council tax band.

first time buyer council tax

How much council tax should I pay?

The amount of council tax the owner or occupier of the property is supposed to pay is determined by the council tax band the property falls under, as well as the location.

It is also important to find out if you are eligible for an exemption or discount from the bill to find out how much council tax you are supposed to pay.

If you move into an area, it is important to inform the local authority so that they send you your council tax bill and provide information on your council tax band.

How do I pay council tax?

These days, the most common way to pay council tax is online through direct debit. In the past, it was possible to pay using cheques, but due to convenience, direct debit is preferred. Council tax is typically paid in 10 instalments from April to January, however, you have the option to request 12 monthly payments. It is also possible to pay in one lump sum, or, in some cases, councils allow weekly or fortnightly payments.

If you find that you are struggling to pay your council tax bill, you could reach out to your council who could provide advice or assistance by adjusting the frequency of payments.

When do you start paying council tax after buying a house or renting a property?

You need to start paying council tax after the property legally becomes yours or once you have moved into a property you are renting. In the case of the former, this means that you have to pay council tax on a new property after the date of Completion (the day the sale of the property becomes final), not the date of Exchange.

Buying a house is a very stressful and busy period of time for a person, especially if they are a first-time homeowner. Because of this, our advice is to inform your local council about your date of Completion by registering for council tax online on their website as soon as possible after moving into your property.

Is it necessary to pay council tax for empty properties?

Not only do you have to pay council tax for an unoccupied property, but you will also have to pay an ‘empty homes premium’ in addition to that if your home has been empty or unfurnished for over two years.

The premium can be up to 100% of the council tax if your house has been empty for more than two years, 200% if it has been over 5 years. From 1 April 2021, the premium can be as high as 300% of your council tax if your property has been vacant for more than a decade.

You need to be living in your house for 6 weeks in a row for it to be considered occupied.

Please note that you are exempt from paying the empty homes premium if the property is occupied by someone in the armed forces.

When can I stop paying council tax on my previous property?

If you are renting your house you have to pay council tax right up til the final day of your rental agreement. If your rental agreement overlaps with your homeownership, then you will have to make sure the council tax is paid for both properties.

If you are about to purchase a property that is not fit to be inhabited, you might be able to get a discount or an exemption on paying council tax

Do I have to pay council tax while I am renovating my property?

In the past, it was possible for councils to give discounts on council tax for homes being refurbished or renovated. However, these days it is very rare for local councils to grant a council tax exemption for these circumstances. The rules might differ from council to council so it is very important to check beforehand.

If you are residing in a different place while your property is going through renovations, you might be eligible for a Second Home Discount on your council tax. You should also check if your local council provides an Empty Property Council Tax discount.

If you are buying a property with another person, you could opt to register only one person at the new property and get the 25% single occupancy council tax discount if it is offered by your local council.

If the previous owner has not paid council tax, am I liable for it?

You do not have to pay the council tax arrears or debts incurred by the previous owner.

When you register for council tax, the local authority will inform you of the date from which you will have to start paying your council tax bill.

If you receive a notice addressed to the previous owner about previous debt or arrears, please pass it on to them. If that is not possible, you may return it to the sender (in this case, the council) to inform them that the person the letter is addressed to is no longer living there.

Am I liable to pay council tax on a newly built house or flat?

You have to start paying council tax on a newly built home or apartment from completion day. You are not liable for making any payment before this date.

Please be aware that it could take time for your council tax application to be processed. This is because the builder of your house or apartment will first have to inform the council of the value of the property and when it was completed. The council, along with the Valuation Office Agency, will then decide the council tax band the property falls under.

Do councils provide any discounts on a Shared Ownership property?

The same rules apply to Shared ownership properties as regular properties. This means that there is no reduction in council tax and you are still liable to pay the same amount. Shared Ownership properties are treated as any other residential properties. .

Learn More About Mortgages In The UK

How do mortgages work in the UK?

Buying a home or land is expensive. A mortgage is a financial product that helps people purchase their own home or land.This is especially true for a first time buyer, as it might be the only route onto the property ladder.

The minimum credit score for a mortgage

You can still be approved for a mortgage to buy a property if you have a poor credit score. However, someone with a poor credit score will probably have a higher interest rate than someone whose credit score is good. Buyers with a low credit score may also need to pay a bigger deposit.

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A fixed term contract is a way of describing certain types of employment. If your current employment contract is due to end after a certain period of time, or after a specific piece of work is complete, you are likely on a fixed term contract. 

how long does a mortgage application take?

After sending off the final application waiting for the decision can be frustrating. Many prospective homeowners ask ‘how long does it take?’ but the truth is the mortgage application process is always different for each customer.

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The entire conveyancing process will normally take anywhere between 8-12 weeks, however you should be prepared for this to take much longer depending on your circumstances and wider factors. This articles explores what the timescale involves.

Mortgages if You are bankrupt

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to what lenders will accept your mortgage application if you want to get a mortgage after bankruptcy. They will lend to discharged bankrupts and consider each case individually. 

what stops you getting a mortgage?

Everyone wants to get the best deal when it comes to buying a home and getting a mortgage when they buy a home. However, being too ambitious can lead to your application being rejected. 

how much do mortgage advisors charge?

Fees for mortgage brokers can be off-putting. A mortgage is an expensive financial product, and often buyers want to save as much money as possible. This might limit their options when it comes to using a mortgage broker.  However, not everyone advisor charges a fee.

IVA Mortgage

When you have an IVA, mortgage acceptance is still possible. However, involuntary agreement mortgage lenders can be hard to find. Typically, a high street company will be more less keen to give you a mortgage. 

Article author

James Lloyd

I am the primary writer and author for Help and Advice, having originally helped start the site because I recognised that there was a need for easy to read, free and comprehensive information on the web. I have been able to use my background in finance to produce a number of articles for the site, as well as develop the financial fitness assessment tool. This is a tool that provides you with practical advice on improving your personal financial health.

Outside of work I am a keen rugby player and used to play up to a semi-professional level before the years of injury finally took their toll.  Now you are more likely to see me in the clubhouse enjoying the game.

Email – james@helpandadvice.co.uk

Linked in – Connect with me 

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I liable to pay council tax on a newly built house or flat?

You have to start paying council tax on a newly built home or apartment from completion day. You are not liable for making any payment before this date.

What is council tax?

Council tax is the tax collected by the local authority or council on domestic property. The money gained from council tax is then used to provide public services such as waste disposal, social care, emergency services etc.

Who has to pay council tax?

If you rent or own a house or flat in the UK and are over 18 you are responsible for paying council tax on your property (although this does not apply to full-time students).

Am I liable to pay council tax if I am a tenant, not a homeowner?

Council tax is paid by the people or person living in a property (if they are over 18). In the event that you are renting, it is you and not your landlord who is liable for paying the property’s council tax bill.

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