With students returning university this month, many will be moving away from home for the first time, or into student housing having previously been in university halls.

Those experiencing living away from home for the first time may not be sure if they have to pay council tax or not.

If you qualify as a full-time student you will not have to pay council tax, but this is everything you need to know.

Do I need to pay council tax when I am a student?

Your student house will be “exempt” from council tax if it is only occupied by full-time students at university or college, while student halls are automatically exempt.

If your house isn’t fully occupied by full-time students then the property will be required to pay council tax, however full-time students are “disregarded”.

This means that those living in the property who aren’t students may be able to get a discount on their council tax bill.

Am I a full-time student?

The guidance from Citizen’s Advice reads: “You’re a full-time student for council tax purposes if your course:

  • lasts at least 1 calendar or academic year for at least 24 weeks out of the year, and
  • normally involves at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience per week during term time.

“The local council might ask for proof that you're a full-time student. You can ask for a certificate from your university or college which must provide it, unless more than a year has passed since your course finished.”

You can read more about council tax discounts for students on GOV.UK.

How are council tax bands calculated?

According to the Government website, council tax valuations are based on the value of properties that aren’t used for business purposes.

This value is based on the price the property would have sold for on the open market on April 1, 1991, in England and April 1, 2003, in Wales.

From there the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) assesses properties to work out what council tax band they are in based on a number of factors.

They are:

  • size
  • layout
  • character
  • location
  • change in use
  • value on April 1, 1991 (England) or April 1, 2003 (Wales)

A property that’s increased in size may move to a higher band when it’s next purchased.

In Scotland, all residential properties are given a Council Tax valuation band by the local assessor. The band is based on the value of your home on 1 April 1991. A different amount of Council Tax is charged on each band.

Each local council has a list of all the domestic property in its area, together with its valuation band.