Council Tax definition of terms

'6 weeks' Rule

If an exemption is valid for a fixed period of time then the clock will continue to run if the circumstances justifying the exemption change for a period of less than 6 weeks. If the change is for more than 6 weeks then the exemption ceases from the date of the change in circumstances.

For example if an exemption is for a fixed period of 6 months and 4 weeks into the fixed period there is a change in circumstances to make the exemption invalid for 3 weeks then the clock continues to run during those 3 weeks and re-emerges at the beginning of week 8 when the invalid circumstances end.

This does not mean that any liability during the period of the change in circumstances is ignored. The liability is incurred as usual. The intention of the rule is to prevent the circumstances of the dwelling being arranged so as to reset the clock at week zero at tactically advantageous intervals.


The administration of the council tax requires decisions to be made on several issues including the valuation band of the dwelling, the identity of the liable person, the amount payable including discounts and exemption, and the imposition of penalties in prescribed circumstances.

The person affected by such decisions has a right to appeal against the decisions and if he is not satisfied by the councils decision following a review then he may appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

Chargeable Dwelling

A property or part of a property used wholly for the purposes of a private dwelling or dwellings and which is not shown in, or is exempt from being shown in, a non-domestic valuation list.


A charity is defined as an organisation established for charitable purposes only. In the vast majority of cases registration under the Charities Act 1960 will be conclusive that an organisation is a charity. Where an organisation is not registered factors taken into considerations will be the extent to which the organisations activities relate to the relief of poverty, advancement of religion or education or the beneficial advancement of the community. Whilst the motives of the organisation are not relevant it is mandatory that the whole of the organisations activities are charitable.

Completion Notice

A completion notice is served by the billing authority on the relevant person and determines the date work on a newly erected property or major structural alterations to an existing property is deemed to be complete. The process often involves site visits and the notice may be served up to three months in advance of the anticipated completion date with the billing authority forming an opinion as to how long any outstanding works should take. If the relevant person objects to the date in the completion notice a revised date can be agreed or he can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.

Composite Properties

A composite property is where the property is used for both business and residential purposes and the parts are not capable of being separately identified for business rate or council tax purposes. In those circumstances the council tax valuation band of the residential part is based on that amount of the whole property that is attributed to the residential use and the business rate valuation excludes that part.

Data Protection Principles

Information must be obtained fairly and lawfully

  • Information must be held only for the purposes specified in the data users register entry
  • Information may only be used or disclosed in accordance with the data users register entry
  • The information must be adequate and relevant and not excessive for those purposes
  • The information must be accurate and up-to-date
  • The information must not be kept longer than necessary for the specified purposes
  • The information must be made available to data subjects on request
  • The information must be properly protected against loss or disclosure.

Dependant Relative

A relative is dependent if he is aged 65 years or over

AND: Severely mentally impaired or substantially and permanently disabled (whether by illness, injury, congenital deformity or otherwise).

A person is the relative of another if he is the spouse of that person

OR: That person's parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, child, grandchild, great-grandchild, great-great-grandchild brother, sister, uncle, great-uncle, great-great-uncle, aunt, great-aunt, great-great-aunt, nephew, great-nephew, great-great-nephew, niece, great-niece, great-great-niece or is the parent or child of such a person.

A relationship by marriage shall be treated as a relationship by blood, a relationship between a man and a woman living together as husband and wife shall be treated as a relationship by marriage and the stepchild of a person shall be treated as his child.

Diplomats and persons with immunity

A person on whom privileges and immunities are conferred by the:

  • Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964
  • Commonwealth Secretariat Act 1966
  • Consular Relations Act 1968
  • Commonwealth Countries and Republic of Ireland (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1985.

A person who is the head of any office described in the Hong Kong Economic Trade Act 1996. In relation to any organisation specified in an Order made under the International Organisations Act 1968, a person within a class mentioned in section 1(3) of that Act to which relief from rates was extended.

The status is invalid if the person is a:

  • British citizen
  • British Dependent Territories citizen
  • British National (Overseas)
  • British Overseas citizen
  • Person who under the British Nationality Act 1981 is a British subject or a British protected person
  • Permanent resident of the United Kingdom.

Dwelling occupied by resident staff

A dwelling where at least one resident is employed in domestic service; resides there wholly or mainly for the purpose of their employment; and The employer of that person occupies the dwelling from time to time but not as their main residence


A dwelling is a property which is used wholly as a private dwelling or dwellings and which is not shown in, or exempt from being shown in, a non-domestic valuation list. The definition includes a caravan pitch or boat mooring if the caravan or boat is the sole or main residence of an individual and it must be noted that it is the pitch or mooring that is considered the dwelling, not the caravan or boat. Special rules apply to properties with mixed dwelling and non-dwelling use, called composite properties, and a property that is let as separate but not self-contained dwellings, called multiple properties.


A bail hostel or probation hostel approved under section 49(1) of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 or a mainly residential building used in other than separate and self-contained units where personal care is provided for persons who require it because of old age, disablement, past or present alcohol or drug dependence or past or present mental disorder

House in Multiple Occupation

A dwelling that was originally constructed, or has been subsequently adapted, for occupation by persons who do not constitute a single household or a dwelling inhabited by two or more persons each of whom either has a tenancy or license to occupy part only of the dwelling or has a license to occupy but is not liable to pay a rent or license fee for the dwelling as a whole.

Joint and Several Liability

Joint and several liability is where more than one person meets the criteria to be the liable person or where a resident is the spouse or opposite sex partner of the liable person. Each has a liability for the whole of the council tax, not for just a proportion based on the number of persons jointly liable. The single exception is that a person will not attract joint and several liability if they would otherwise be disregarded for discount purposes on the grounds of severe mental impairment.

Liable Person

The legislation identifies specific circumstances where the person liable for the council tax is determined to be the owner. For all other circumstances the liability is determined by reference to a table called the hierarchy of liability.

Material Increase

Any increase in the value of a dwelling caused by building, engineering or other operation whether or not planning permission is required.

Material Reduction

Any reduction in the value of a dwelling caused by the demolition of any part of the dwelling, any change in the physical state of the locality or any adaptation to make the dwelling suitable for a disabled person.

Members of International Headquarters and Defence Organisations

A person who is a member or dependent of a member (within the meanings of The International Headquarters and Defence Organisations Act 1964) of a headquarters or organisation that is the subject of a designation by an Order in Council under section 1 of that Act;

Member of a Religious Community

A religious community is one where the principal activities consist of any or a combination of the following:

  • Prayer
  • Contemplation
  • Education
  • The relief of suffering

A person is a member of such a community if:

  • The above are his principal activities
  • He has no income or capital of his own (disregarding any income by way of a pension in respect of former employment)
  • He is dependent on the community to provide for his material needs.

Members of Visiting Forces

A member of a visiting force is a person who has a relevant association, within the meaning of Part I of the Visiting Forces Act 1952, with a body, contingent or detachment of the forces of a country to which any provision in that Part applies. A relevant association is defined as being someone who is a member of the visiting force, a member of the civilian component of such a force, or is someone who is a dependant of such member and who is not a British citizen or ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom.

Mental Nursing Home

A property that is a mental nursing home within the meaning of the Registered Homes Act 1984.

Minister of Religion

The duties of a minister of religion would typically include:

  • Conducting religious worship
  • Providing pastoral care, especially to the sick, distressed or needy
  • Conducting weddings, funerals etc
  • Providing leadership to their denomination
  • Overseeing the ministry of others

Multiple Property

Where a property contains more than one self-contained dwelling unit then each unit shall be treated as a separate dwelling. However where a property is occupied as more than one unit of separate living accommodation but is not capable of being assessed as self-contained dwelling unit then the property may be treated as one dwelling.

Nursing Home - England and Wales

A property that is a nursing home within the meaning of the Registered Homes Act 1984 or would be but for section 21(3)(a) of that Act

Nursing Home - Scotland

A nursing home within the meaning of section 10(2) of the Nursing Homes Registration (Scotland) Act 1938 in respect of which a person is registered or any premises in respect of which an exemption has been granted under section 6 or 7 of that Act


A person with a freehold interest or a current leasehold interest granted for 6 months or more and there is not a similar leasehold inferior to his interest.

Private Hospital

A private hospital within the meaning of section 12 (registration of private hospitals) of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984

Proper Address

The proper address for a corporate body or partnership is its registered or principal office in the United Kingdom and for an individual is his last known address. If the person specifies another address in the United Kingdom at which he or someone else will accept documents that will be his proper address.

Relevant Person

Where a property is exempt there is no business ratepayer or council tax liable person but nevertheless notices still have to be served and various rights and responsibilities still accrue as regards the property. In those circumstances the person who would have been the ratepayer or liable person had the exemption not existed is known as the relevant person and has the same rights and responsibilities as a ratepayer or liable person.

Relevant Transaction

Any of the following:

  • A sale of the freehold
  • The granting of a lease for 7 years or more
  • The transfer of a lease for 7 years or more.


A resident is a person aged 18 or over who has his sole or main residence in the dwelling. A person under the age of 18 cannot by law hold any legal interest in a property and therefore under no circumstances could be liable for the council tax. If the only occupiers of a dwelling are persons under the age of 18 they are not residents for council tax purposes and the liability will be that of the owner. However the liability is then mitigated by an exemption being granted in those circumstances.

Residential Care Home - England and Wales

Any of the following:

  • An establishment required to be registered under Part I of the Registered Homes Act 1984 or would be but for section 1(4) or (5)(j) of that Act
  • A building in which residential accommodation is provided under section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948
  • A building in which residential accommodation is provided and which is run by the Abbeyfield Society or a body affiliated to that Society

Residential Care Home Scotland

Any of the following:

  • A residential establishment provided and maintained by a local authority in respect of their functions under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968
  • A residential establishment to which Part IV of the Act applies
  • Residential accommodation provided and maintained by a local authority under the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 where the sole or main function of the establishment or accommodation is to provide personal care or support, combined with board, to persons who are solely or mainly resident in the establishment or accommodation

"Personal care" includes the provision of appropriate help with physical and social needs and "Support" means counselling or other help provided as part of a planned programme of care

School leaver

A person who is under the age of 20 and on a day within a relevant period has ceased to undertake a course of education. A "relevant period" means the period after 30th April and before 1st November in any year.

Service by Post

When an Act of Parliament authorises a document to be served by post then properly addressing, pre-paying and posting the item will be deemed to have completed that service unless proven to the contrary. Consequently proof of posting is proof of service unless proven to the contrary.

Severely Mentally Impaired

A person is severely mentally impaired if:

He is entitled to one of the benefits listed below

AND: A registered medical practitioner certifies that he has a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning, however caused, which appears to be permanent.

Social Security (Contributions and Benefits) Act 1992

  • An incapacity benefit
  • An attendance allowance
  • A severe disablement allowance
  • The care component of a disability living allowance
  • An increase in the rate of disablement pension
  • A disability working allowance
  • A constant attendance allowance
  • An un-employability allowance
  • Income support where the applicable amount includes a disability premium

Sole or Main Residence

In the vast majority of cases a person only has one residence and it will not be disputed that the dwelling in consideration is their sole residence. Where a person has more than one residence then in deciding which is his main residence consideration should be given to factors such as where their spouse/partner/children reside. For local taxation purposes the term sole or main residence was first introduced under the Community Charge legislation and was the subject of a considerable amount of case law and each case must be considered on the facts of the individual case.

Spouses of students

A person who is:

The spouse or dependant of a student

AND: Is not a British citizen

AND: Who is prevented by the terms of their leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom from taking paid employment or from claiming benefits

Statutory and Secure Tenants

A statutory tenancy occurs when a protected tenancy under the Rent Act 1977 comes to an end and the tenant remains in residence or where a surviving fellow resident remains in residence following the death of the protected tenant. A secure tenancy is a tenancy with certain public bodies such as a local authority or a registered social landlord

Student Academic Year

The first calendar year shall be treated as beginning with the day on which the course begins and subsequent calendar years as beginning on the anniversary of that day. A course that begins part way through an academic year shall be treated as beginning at the beginning of the term in which the course begins, and subsequent academic years as beginning at the beginning of the equivalent terms in those years. In applying those statements to a course that is for other than a number of complete academic or calendar years any last part of the course shall be disregarded.

Students - Apprentice

A person employed to learn a trade, business, profession, office, employment or vocation and undertaking training leading to a qualification accredited by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications or the Scottish Vocational Educational Council. The salary the person receives must be substantially less than the salary he would likely receive if he had achieved the qualification and in any event no more than £160 per week.

Student - Foreign language assistant

A person registered with the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges as a foreign language assistant and in a period of his appointment as a foreign language assistant at a school or other educational institution in Great Britain.

Student - Full Time Course of Education

Subsists for at least one academic year or, in the case of an educational establishment that does not have academic years, for at least one calendar year and students are normally required to attend for at least 24 weeks in each academic or calendar year. The nature of the course must be such that a person undertaking it would normally require to complete periods of study, tuition or work experience for a minimum average of 21 hours a week. Except for a teacher training course a course is not to be treated as a full time course if the aggregate of periods of work experience exceeds the aggregate of periods of study or tuition.

Student Prescribed Educational Establishments

  • University
  • Central institution or college of education in Scotland
  • College of education in Northern Ireland
  • Institution within PCFC funding sector under Education Reform Act 1988;
  • Theological college;
  • Any other institution in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland established solely or mainly for providing courses of further education.
  • Teacher Training College

Qualifying Courses

A person is undertaking one or more qualifying courses of education with the same establishment if:

  • He is under the age of 20
  • He is not undertaking a full time course of education
  • He is not an apprentice or youth training trainee
  • The relevant number of hours per week exceeds 12.
  • The course is for more than 3 calendar months
  • The course is not a course of higher education
  • Tuition is given mostly otherwise than by correspondence
  • It is not as a consequence of an office or employment
  • The relevant activities are carried out between 8.00 am and 5.30 pm.

Relevant activities and number of hours per week

The average number of hours per week a person undertaking a course would normally require to spend on relevant activities, excluding periods of vacation. Relevant activities means:

  • The receipt of tuition
  • The undertaking of supervised study or examination
  • Taking part (as part of the curriculum of the course) in any supervised exercise, experiment, project or practical work.

Student Nurse

A person undertaking a course at a prescribed establishment for student nurses which would lead to registration on many parts of the Register maintained under the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979 as a first inclusion on that Register. The prescribed establishments are a college of nursing and midwifery or a college of health established by a regional or a district health authority within the meaning of the National Health Service Act 1977 or a Health Board within the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978.


A person, other than a student nurse, who is undertaking a full time course of education; a qualifying course of education; or who is a foreign language assistant. A person ceases to undertake a course if he has completed it, abandoned it or is no longer permitted by the educational establishment to attend it.

Student - Work Experience

A person who as part of the curriculum of his course is at a place of his employment and providing services under his contract of employment or at a place where a trade, business, profession or other occupation relevant to the course is carried on and he is there for the purposes of gaining experience.

Student - Youth Training Trainee

A person undertaking training under the Employment and Training Act 1973 or the Enterprise and New Towns (Scotland) Act 1990 and the training constitutes an approved scheme for the purposes of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.


The definition of a 'student' is someone who is a

  • Student
  • Student nurse
  • Apprentice
  • Youth training trainees

On the request of the student an educational establishment will issue a certificate stating the name and address of the establishment, the name and date of birth of the student and details of the course and course dates. Appeals against decisions regarding student status are subject to the council tax appeals regime

'Unoccupied' and 'Vacant'

An 'unoccupied dwelling is one in which no one lives. A 'vacant dwelling is an unoccupied dwelling that is also substantially unfurnished