Student Finance

Do I Have To Pay Student Council Tax?

Ben Maples  · Sep 11th 2023

Confused by council tax? Not to worry! As you move into student accommodation, you’ll likely need to pay council tax student charges. Let’s break down what this might look like, how to apply and if you will need to pay.

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There tends to be a lot of confusion whether student council tax is a thing. It’s likely you haven’t been told this is something you’ll need to consider. To help, we’ve put together a useful guide on student council tax.


Part time student council tax

Do students pay council tax?

This will depend on your student status. Generally speaking, students do not have to pay council tax as long as they are a full-time student. If you receive a council tax bill, you can apply for an exemption through the government website.

If you are living in the house with anyone who is not a student, then you will receive a bill. Despite this, your house may still qualify for a discount.

But what about shared accommodation? If you live with a non-student, there will still be a council tax charge. Luckily, students will not have to pay.

There are some grey areas. If there is a house of full-time students, but there is one who is not a full-time student, then, unfortunately, they will have to pay the council tax themselves, although they will get a single-person discount of 25%.

What is a full-time student?

A full-time student is what it says on the tin! It is someone who is in full-time education of at least A-Level or higher.

To qualify as a full-time student, your course must:

  • Involve at least 21 hours of study per week.
  • Last at least a year.

For those studying up to A-Level, then your course must:

  • Involve at least 12 hours of study per week.
  • Last at least 3 months.

Discounts and exemptions are still available for people who do not meet this specific criteria. You will need to find out more about exemptions on the government website.

Do mature students have to pay council tax?

The same rules apply to mature students too. If you are a full-time student, then you are not liable for council tax.

However, the rule of living with a non-student may apply. This will either mean you can receive a student discount or that the other person in the property can apply for a single-person discount.


Council tax discount student

Do postgraduate students have to pay council tax?

This can be a tricky grey area for some students. Technically speaking, postgraduate students are, like undergrads, not liable to pay council tax when studying at university as a full-time student.

Despite this, it can be tricky to prove, especially if you are a postgraduate student. Postgraduate students tend to have different student accommodation that isn’tt on-site, which can occasionally cause issues. If you are writing your dissertation or thesis or your teaching doesn’t take place on campus, then you may still be charged.

However, don’t worry too much. This can usually be challenged, and if you are struggling for help, you can always contact either your university’s advice centre or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

How to get council tax exemption as a student

For a student to qualify for council tax exemption, your local council will need to register you as a “disregarded person”. Don’t worry, this isn’t quite as horrible as the name suggests. Being a “disregarded person” means you are not expected to pay council tax under any circumstances.

If you fall into any of the below categories, you will be considered a “disregarded person”:

  • A full-time student.
  • Overseas dependent: This is basically a child or partner who cannot legally work in the UK.
  • Student nurse.
  • Studying any courses up to A Levels and are under 20.
  • Under the age of 25.
  • Working apprentice.

There will be other exemptions, of course. Certain student discounts or grants may be available for different students, but if you fall into the above categories, you will be given disregard status and will have student council tax exemption.

What is a student certificate for council tax purposes?

Not all students will be given one, but some local councils will give students a tax exemption certificate. You don’t need a student discount for council tax, but since student and council tax don’t go hand-in-hand, you will be getting something that will exempt you from having to pay tax.

Sometimes the council likes to do checks on houses that haven't paid council tax just yet. A council tax student certificate will save you a lot of money and hassle. But you must remember to apply! Council tax exemption student only works if you inform your council.


Student discount on council tax

When do you have to start paying council tax after being a student?

You will need to pay council tax as soon as you move into a property. While you may have been entitled to a council tax student exemption when you were at university, you will need to start paying council tax when you leave. Whether you rent or own,there will be no student exemption council tax.

Plenty of students feel that they do not need to inform their local councils of council tax and end up paying when they don’t need to. Some councils can be lenient on you not letting them know straight away, but why take the risk? It’s best to inform your council as early as possible and not run the risk.

What if I take a break from my studies?

Typically, this doesn’t matter. Under most council’s rules, you will still be considered a student if you intend to return to the course.

If you are leaving the course and not studying another one, this may change. To this end, you may be required to pay council tax if you stay in the house after leaving the course.

What if I live in an HMO?

In this instance, the homeowner is liable for the council tax. A HMO (house in multiple occupations) is not free from council tax.

A house is considered an HMO if it is occupied by:

  • More than one household.
  • One or more tenants who each have their own tenancy agreement.

If you are the owner, then you may still need to pay council tax, even if you qualify as a full-time student.

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