Who pays for the council tax in a HMO?

By Matthew Moody | HMOs

To me this is quite an easy one but to some people, its a bit muddy.

I read an interesting article recently in the excellent Nearly Legal blog on the joys of housing law.  Don’t immediately switch off because I mentioned the law but read on to find out a little more about whose responsibility it is to pay the council tax.

In the eyes of the council and housing law; the owner or tenant is responsible for the council tax.  In a HMO where you are renting rooms on an all-inclusive basis to your sharers, it is YOUR responsibility to pay the council tax.

If you are renting a HMO to students where they generally pay most of the bills – it is their responsibility to pay the council tax – except as students, they are one of the few exempt people to not have to pay the council tax.

In the blog posted on Nearly Legal, a tenant rented a property, claimed never to have moved in, then sub-let the property to four people (making it a HMO) but did not pay the council tax.   He claimed his tenancy ended after six months and that he had never lived there.

These two points are irrelavent because a tenancy automatically converts to a periodic tenancy after six months unless notice is given and it is the responsibility of the owner or the tenant to pay the council tax.

As this tenant was renting from the landlord, the responsibility passed over to the tenant even if he was not living there.  There were several other extenuating circumstances which the article goes into but it is worth remembering that you, as the landlord are responsible for paying the council tax.


About the Author

Matthew founded Your HMO Expert in 2006 and since then have provided the authoritative place on the web to come to find out how HMO Property Investment works and how you can get started.

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(61) comments

Patrick foster April 4, 2017

Hi, I lived in a HMO property and my landlord acknowledged responsibility for council tax but now is attempting to seek reimbursement for paying council tax despite their admitted liability. They claim that a clause in the agreement saying I’m liable for council tax means I owe them even though they legally can’t pass responsibility onto me and can only seek funds via upping rent, which they didn’t before I moved out. Where do I stand when they’ve given me a lump sum to pay?

Victoria May 19, 2020

Look forward to hear from you and your servuces, I have a small hmo in person Greta yarmouth ad looking to maximise profits, love to chat


Victoria Hunt

Matthew Moody June 2, 2020

hey Victoria, great to hear from you – get in touch over on the book of face and join one of my groups or pages. Better still join the “League of Extraordinary Investors’ and take part in our weekly coaching calls and really sky rocket your business!

Ram September 2, 2020

Hi I have 4 bedroom house in which i have 2 students and 2 professionals do i get discount in council tax.

Sue Osgathorp September 16, 2020

Good Evening,

My son has recently moved into a property registered as a HMO in Norwich. It was agreed that the rent for his room was £400 including bills. The other tenants are students. He is on Universal Credit and receives Housing Benefit towards his rent. However, since moving in, his landlord has told him that he has to pay Council Tax of £200 per month, in addition to the rent! The others do not have to pay as they are students. My son occupies one of 8 rooms, with common areas of bathrooms, kitchen and living room. Surely this cannot be right? I can’t believe that he is liable for all the Council Tax on an 8 bedroomed house, if any, as the agreement was for ‘£400 including bills’. His landlord has a property in York but also comes down to stay at the property for weekends when she feels like it, using it like a second home, which I feel sure is not allowed as an HMO either. Am I right?

Thank you for your time,

Mrs Sue Osgathorp

georgie October 30, 2020

Trying to get help for a friend.. he has a tenancy agreement for a room in a four bedroom house and it says he is responsible for his share of bills and council tax. The other people in the house are students and he has just been landed with council tax for the whole property less 25% as there is no one to share it with as they are all exempt. Can the landlord do this if he didn’t notify my friend of his liability due to the status of the other tenants? Is there anything he can do as it is a large unexpected bill as when he took on the tenancy he expected to be a student but the uni deferred the start of his course until January.

Matthew Moody November 26, 2020

hey Ram, alas no. You can only get a discount if you have all students – sorry 🙁

Matthew Moody November 26, 2020

hello Sue, Im sorry I didnt see this before now but I’ve been busy alas.

If your son has a signed tenancy agreement that clearly states ‘all bills are included’ then the landlord cannot charge him council tax.

If he is the only person that isn’t a student, then it is probably because the landlord is trying to push the onus from him having to pay it to your son having to pay it. Because he’s on universal credit, normally he wouldn’t have to pay it but I’d recommend he steer clear of accepting responsibility and push back to the landlord with a clear ‘no’!

Matthew Moody November 26, 2020

hey Georgie, tough one but I’d say push back on this.

If everybody else is students, then putting the entire council tax for him as one person for a HMO is a bit rich.

So I’d say thanks but no thanks.

But again check the tenancy agreement!

James December 12, 2020

I am a working professional at a University in Coventry and I have a room in an appartment with 4 other people who are students. So as per what I understand it’s an HMO. Who will have to pay the council tax in this case? Will it be my landlord or will it be shared equally between me and him? Please advise

Birgit February 15, 2021

Hi there, as live-in landlord I rent three rooms (HMO) with Common areas… All bills are included in the rent. Now I do understand that I, as the Land-Lord, am responsible to then actually pay the bills to the energy supplier, internet supplier and so on. Which also means that it is on my name and I am liable for it. Yet the tenants still have to pay their share of it (which is included in the monthly rent).
Now when you say the council tax has to be paid by me, the live-in landlord… Does that mean that they are not charged for it at all or does it mean like with the other bills that they pay their share included in the rent but I am the one who has to pay for it…?

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