Council Tax

Council tax is applied to properties, not people, but there are some exemptions from paying it based on the sort of people who live in the property.

A property is exempt from council tax if everyone who lives there falls into at least one of several categories, including:

  • full-time college or university students

  • 18 or 19-year olds in full-time education

  • children under 18 years old

  • anyone aged over 18 for whom child benefit is payable

  • people on some apprenticeships and trainee schemes

  • a student’s overseas partner (if they entered the UK on a visa that denies the right to work or claim benefits, or if they have the right to work but not to claim benefits).

  • live-in carers who look after someone who isn’t their partner, spouse or child

Student halls of residence are automatically exempt.

What does being a 'full-time student' mean?
If you still need some clarification, there's a specific definition of 'full-time student' for council tax purposes. To count as a full-time student, your course must:


- Last at least one calendar or academic year, where you’re required to undertake the course for at least 24 weeks out of the year


- Have at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience per week during term time


If you’re under 20 years old and you’re studying for a qualification up to A level, Scottish Higher National Certificate, NVQ/SVQ level 3 or equivalent, your course must:


- Last at least three months


- Involve at least 12 hours of study per week.
Deferals and council tax
If you’re a full-time student you may need to take some time off from your studies. If you remain registered on your course because you intend to return, you should still be exempt.
Post-graduate students
Full-time postgraduate students get the same exemption as all the above, but sometimes it's really hard to secure their rightful council tax exemption


Some local authorities don’t believe their periods of study, tuition or work experience meet the requirements – often because the periods of study don’t take place on the university campus. However, the legislation definitely states that study doesn’t need to be at campus and you should 100% challenge any refusal you might get on these grounds. You can quote The Council Tax (Discount Disregards) Order 1992 if necessary.


You might also have problems during the thesis ‘writing up’ period after the formal end of the course. While some local authorities are sympathetic and will extend your student status after the end of the course, others have been known to regard such students as liable. If this affects you, seek advice from DSU Advice
What to do if you are exempt
It's pretty simple and the sooner you do it the better (that's you and your housemates who are also exempt). You'll need to get a certificate of student status provided by your university or college and send it to your local council. They're used to getting asked for them and legally have to provide it when asked.