Council Tax is a charge set by the local authority for every property in the area. The money goes towards providing a range of services such as collecting your bins, funding local schools, road maintenance and so on.
Finding out your local authority
The easiest way is to check online at www.gov.uk/find-local-council. However, you can also ask your landlord or letting agent and they should be able to tell you.
If you live in the London Borough of Camden, you must apply online via the Camden Council website.
When do I pay Council Tax?
Living in Halls: If you live in UCL or University of London Halls, you will be exempt from paying Council Tax. The information to say you are a student is provided to your council by UCL.
Private rented accommodation: If you live in private rented accommodation, you will need to inform and provide evidence to the local authority, telling them you are a student. This should exempt you from paying Council Tax. The Student Enquiries Desk in the UCL Student Centre (Floor 1, 27-28 Gordon Square, WC1H OAH) can provide a Statement of Student Status which you can send to the council to confirm your exemption.
Council Tax Exemption
The majority of students are exempt from the liability to pay Council Tax. If you live in a Hall of Residence, (UCL or UofL), this will be granted automatically. If you do not live in a hall of residence then you will need to inform the Local Authority, (Council) – Council Tax section that you are a student. The UCL Student Centre can provide a Statement of Student Status for this purpose.
To qualify for exemption you must be:
- enrolled on a full-time course at a prescribed educational establishment;
- attending a course that lasts at least one academic year;
- attending for at least 24 weeks in each academic or calendar year;
- required to undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience of at least 21 hours per week.
The exemption continues through all vacation periods.
The exemption does not apply to the period before you start your course and the period after you finish unless you are living in University Halls of Residence.
The husband or wife of an international student is also exempt provided s/he has a condition in his/her visa preventing him or her from claiming public funds or from working. Children under 18 are exempt in all circumstances.
If the Local Authority refuses to give you the exemption, please contact the Advice Service; we can help you to explain the legal basis of exemption and why you are eligible for it to your Local Authority.
Living with People who aren’t Students
If you live in accommodation with a mix of students and non-students, then some Council Tax will be payable. It’s up to you and your flatmates to decide how to split the bill. If there is only 1 person who is not a student, then the total Council Tax bill will be reduced by 25%. If there are 2 or more people who are not students, the full Council Tax bill is payable.
If you are studying part-time, then it is likely you will have to pay Council Tax as you will not qualify for the exemption. You can apply for a benefit called “Council Tax Reduction” which helps people on a low income, or no income, pay their Council Tax. You’ll need to contact your local authority and apply directly to them for this benefit.
What to do if you receive a Council Tax bill?
DO NOT IGNORE IT! If you receive a bill, even if you think it is incorrect, then get in touch with the council to challenge the bill. Ignoring bills can lead to possible court action and imprisonment. If you’re unsure then please contact the Advice Service who will be able to take a look at the letter and assist you. See the chart below to check your liability.
What happens to my Council Tax if I want to leave my course early?
It’s possible that, as you are no longer enrolled on a full-time course, you may be liable to pay Council Tax. If you are thinking of withdrawing from your course and need advice on your liability for Council Tax, get in touch with the Advice Service and we can help. Similarly, if you’re thinking of taking a break from your course then please get in touch with us to see what your Council Tax liability may be.
What happens to my Council Tax after I finish my course?
You are only exempt from the period you start your course to the last day of your course. After that date, you are liable for Council Tax. You may also be liable for Council Tax if you are between two courses, e.g. going from an undergraduate course to a postgraduate one after the summer.