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Understanding Council Tax

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Because you’re a student, when you move into your property you will be exempt from paying Council tax, something that will save you hundreds. How you go about arranging this and checking that you do qualify for council tax exemption can be a little bit confusing so our Advisers have put together some advice below for your perusal.

Council Tax is a tax on domestic property collected by the local authority. Council Tax helps to fund local services such as Education, Libraries, Street Lighting, Refuse Collection, Social Services, Police and the Fire Service. The charge is based on the value of the property and is payable annually (1st April-31st March).

Council Tax exemption

A property can be an ‘exempt’ dwelling, where no Council Tax is payable if:

  • All adults living in the property are full-time students, or
  • The accommodation is a hall of residence and has permanent exemption.

Who is a full-time student?

You are a full-time student for council tax purposes if your course:

  • Lasts at least one calendar or academic year and
  • Normally involves at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience per week during term time

Students who meet this definition are exempt from paying Council Tax from the first day of their full-time course until they have completed, abandoned or been dismissed from the course.

Students repeating part of their full-time course retain their full-time student status

How to apply from exemption from Council Tax

Unless you are living in Halls of Residence (which are permanently exempt), it will be necessary for you to provide your Council Tax Office with confirmation of your student status.

The Council Tax Office requires you to provide your Student Status Certificate which you receive after enrolment. The certificate gives your name, as well as the start and end dates of your programme of study. Most full-time students can create a student status letter by logging into Nova.

If you have any problem producing the letter, contact the Customer Service team by emailing or visit any of the information points around the campus.

Students retaking part of a full-time programme are still classified as a full-time student for council tax purposes. Contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre for support if you have any difficulties proving your student status.

If you live in a property which is divided into self-contained flats, then each flat will get its own bill. If you live in a shared house or flat, the property is usually considered as one dwelling and only one bill will be issued. In order to ‘exempt’ the property from Council Tax, all students living in the accommodation, must prove their student status by showing the Council Tax Office their Student Status Certificate.

If one person fails to do so, the property will not be exempt from Council Tax and will be a chargeable dwelling. The responsibility for informing the Council Tax Office lies with the new tenants and this must be done as soon as they move into a property so that correct billing can be made. Students failing to apply for exemption will be issued with a bill, which, if ignored, will result in a court summons (plus costs).

If you live in:

University halls of residence – you don’t need to do anything as University halls are already exempt, but check with your Halls Manager that it is a University hall!

Private accommodation – students need to register with Coventry City Council

You can notify the local authority of a change of address or circumstances online here.

Part-Time students

Part-time students are not exempt from paying Council Tax. However, if you are a part-time student on a low income you may be eligible to apply for Council Tax Support. If you live alone you may be eligible for a 25% reduction. Please contact your Local Authority or the Student Union Advice Centre for more information.

Interrupting Students

An interrupting student is a full-time student who has taken time out from their studies – they have not withdrawn from their course. Such a student is still classed as a full-time student (SI 1996/636) and, provided they remain enrolled at the University, they will continue to fall within the definition of a full-time student for Council Tax exemption purposes.

Students with non-student spouse / partner

If you share accommodation with your spouse (husband or wife) / partner and they are not a full-time student and the property will not be exempt from Council Tax. If you are the only adults living in the property, you will get a 25% discount from the full bill. If your total household income is low, your non-student spouse/ partner should apply to your Local Authority for Council Tax Support.

International and European students

International and European students are treated like UK students when it comes to Council Tax liability.

  • If you live in an ‘exempt’ dwelling such as Halls of Residence you will not have to do anything as your dwelling is permanently exempt.
  • If you live in other accommodation such as a private flat you must follow the instructions above to avoid getting a court summons.

International Students with non-student spouse / partner International students who live with their non-student spouse or partner will also be exempt from the tax if:

  • The only other adult in the property is your spouse / partner and
  • They are not a British Citizen and
  • They have been given ‘leave to enter/remain’, with ‘no recourse to public funds’, or they are not permitted to work.

If your non-student spouse / partner, who is living with you, is a British citizen, EEA national, or has ‘settled status’ (indefinite leave to enter or remain), the property will not be exempt from the tax. They (not you, as you cannot make recourse to public funds) should apply for Council Tax Support if you have a low income.

If you are an international student, please visit the following link for further information: select: “FEES and Money” then ‘Council Tax’.

Other circumstances when a student will not be charged Council Tax

  • If you live and share basic facilities with your landlord, (i.e. bathroom, kitchen) it will be your landlord’s responsibility to pay the Council Tax.
  • Students living with non-students are not jointly and severally liable for any Council Tax that a non-student attracts to the property. This has implications for people who cease being students whilst sharing accommodation with other students. In this instance the dwelling would stop being exempt and the nonstudent would be billed for the full amount of tax payable on the property. The students living in the property would not be legally liable for the charge.

Further information

For further information about Council Tax, discounts and exemptions, please visit: select ‘Housing and local services’, then ‘Council Tax’.

If you require advice regarding your council tax please contact SUAC.


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