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How to apply for a council tax discount, exemption or relief

If after reviewing the information below you think you may be entitled to a reduction in the amount of council tax payable, or wish to receive further information, please contact the Council Tax team . Details of how to apply for a single persons discount is shown below.

Provided the qualifying conditions are met a reduction will be applied to your council tax account.

Change in circumstances

If your bill or exemption notice shows that you have been given a discount, exemption or relief but you think that you are not entitled to it, or the circumstances in your household have changed, for example a child reaches the age of 18, you must advise us within 21 days.

Single persons discount

To be entitled to a 25% single persons discount the property must be occupied by only one adult resident over 18 and it must also be that individual's sole or main residence.

What does 'sole or main residence' mean?

The definition of an individual's sole or main residence for council tax purposes is not sufficiently defined within council tax legislation. If there is uncertainty about which property is your main residence we will ask for further information about your personal circumstances.

The following factors, identified by cases considered by the High Court, have provided guidance to local authorities:

  • the reasons why you have two addresses
  • where a wife, husband, civil partner or partner lives, if applicable
  • where any dependent children live, if applicable
  • the legal tie to each address
  • where the majority of belongings are kept
  • whether you intend to return to one address eventually for example after the expiry of a work contract
  • whether anything prevents you from returning to a property whenever you want to
  • which address seems to be your most settled home or which seems to be a family home
  • the amount of time you spend at each address and the pattern of that occupation during the working week.

The factors stated above are in no order of importance, nor is the list exhaustive. In each case we will establish the facts of occupation and then determine which property is your main residence for council tax purposes.

Main residence of spouses, civil partners and unmarried couples

When considering the sole or main residence of couples (married or not) it is normally held that couples have one main residence even if both own or rent different properties.

How to apply for a council tax single persons discount

If after reading the above information you consider that you may be entitled to a single persons discount, please complete and return a council tax incoming occupier form (37KB). We will contact you if further information is required. Provided the qualifying conditions are met a reduction will be applied to your council tax account.

If you require further information about claiming single persons discount please contact the Council Tax team.

National Fraud Initiative

The National Fraud Initiative (NFI) is an exercise managed by The Cabinet Office, a ministerial department of central Government; the NFI exercise matches electronic data within, and between public and some private sector bodies to prevent and detect fraud and/or error. As part of this NFI exercise, claims for council tax discounts, such as a single occupier discount are cross checked against databases provided to the NFI by the City of London and other participating bodies.

For information about other types of reductions available please select from the drop down list below.

Discounts where some or all residents are disregarded

Certain people are not counted when working out the number of adults who live in your home, therefore your bill will be reduced provided the qualifying conditions are met.

Disregarded persons include:

  • full-time students, student nurses, apprentices, youth training trainees and foreign language assistants (When applying for a student disregard please send in an original council tax certificate issued by your educational establishment, copies are not accepted)
  • a student's spouse or dependent who is not a British citizen and who is prevented by the terms of their entry visa from taking paid employment or from claiming benefits
  • patients resident in hospital
  • people who are being looked after in care homes
  • people who are severely mentally impaired
  • people staying in certain hostels or night shelters
  • people under the age of 20 who are at school or have just left school
  • people in respect of whom child benefit is payable
  • care workers working for low pay, usually for charities
  • people caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner, or child under 18
  • members of visiting forces and certain international institutions
  • members of religious communities (monks and nuns)
  • people in prison (except those in prison for non-payment of council tax or a fine)
  • diplomats or people who benefit from diplomatic immunity and certain members of their household.

A 25% discount is awarded where there is more than one resident, and all but one are 'disregarded persons' for the purposes of the council tax. A 50% discount may be awarded if all residents are disregarded.

Exemptions - including properties occupied only by students

Some properties are exempt from council tax:

Properties occupied:

  • only by full-time students (When applying for a student exemption please send in original council tax certificates issued by an educational establishment for all residents, copies are not accepted)
  • only by under 18 year olds
  • as students' halls of residence
  • as forces' barracks and married quarters or accommodation occupied by members of visiting forces. Their occupants contribute to the cost of local services through a special arrangement
  • by diplomats and members of their household
  • annexes or similar self-contained parts of a property (eg granny annexes) which are occupied by an elderly or disabled relative of the resident of the rest of the property

Vacant properties can be exempt if they:

  • are owned by a charity - (exempt for up to six months)
  • are left empty by someone who has gone into prison or who has moved to receive care in a hospital, home or elsewhere
  • are left empty by someone who has moved in order to provide care to another person
  • are awaiting probate or letters of administration to be granted (and for up to six months after)
  • have been repossessed by a mortgagee
  • are the responsibility of a bankrupt's trustee
  • are empty because their occupation is prohibited by law
  • are awaiting to be occupied by a minister of religion
  • consist of an unoccupied caravan pitch or an unoccupied boat mooring
  • are unoccupied annexes (eg granny annexes) which cannot be let separately either because they are part of the main dwelling or because of a planning restriction
  • are left empty by someone who either is a student or who has become a student elsewhere

Disabled band reduction

​Council tax band reductions concern properties with occupiers who are disabled.

If one of the occupiers is physically disabled, the amount of council tax payable in respect of the dwelling may be reduced, provided that there is one or more of the following which is required for meeting the needs of the disabled person:

  • a room
  • a second bathroom or kitchen
  • sufficient floor space to allow the use of a wheelchair

The person must be substantially and permanently disabled by illness, injury or congenital deformity.

For properties in bands B to H, relief is awarded by basing the tax on the band immediately below the one assessed by the Valuation Office Agency. However, for properties in band A, a reduction equivalent to one ninth of the amount of council tax at band D is given.

See our council tax bands and appeals for more information about the banding of properties and details of how to contact the Valuation Office Agency.

Council tax reduction scheme discount for people on low incomes

If you are on a low income and feel that you may be entitled to a council tax reduction scheme discount and are not already in receipt of a rebate you should contact the City's Benefit Service as soon as possible. The council tax reduction scheme for pensioners is a national scheme set by Central Government. For working age applicants any entitlement to a council tax reduction scheme discount will be made in accordance with the City's local scheme.

Further details and application forms are available from:

City of London, Rents & Benefits Service
Department of Community and Children's Services
Barbican Estate Office
3 Lauderdale Place
London EC2Y 8EN

Telephone: 020 7332 3937
Email: Benefits Team.

If your council tax bill shows a discount under the council tax reduction scheme you will receive a separate notification detailing how this figure has been calculated. Under the council tax reduction scheme you have a duty to notify the City of London Corporation of any changes that might affect entitlement within 21 days of the change, further information may be found on your council tax bill.

For more information see our council tax reduction scheme.

Discount for people living in annexes (from 1 April 2014 only)

​A discount is available for people living in annexes provided they are related to the person liable to pay the council tax of the main dwelling, and for people living in dwellings with annexes which are unoccupied provided they are using those annexes as part of their main residence. A 50% reduction in the amount of council tax may be applicable providing the qualifying criteria are met.

Discretionary discount for care leavers (from 1 April 2017 only)

From 1 April 2017, a 100% discretionary discount is available to individuals who are care leavers under the age of 25 who live in the City of London, subject to liability considerations. You should contact the council tax section to claim a care leavers discount.

Empty unfurnished and uninhabitable properties (no discount from 1 April 2019)

From 1 April 2019 council tax discount is not available for empty properties. An empty property may qualify for an exemption if it meets one of the exemption criteria set out above.

Long-term empty property premium (an additional levy of 100% from 1 April 2019)

For properties that have been empty for at least 2 years, a premium of 100% of the relevant council tax band charge is applied.

In exceptional circumstances local authorities have a discretion to reduce or waive the empty premium charge. Further details are available from the council tax section.

If you notify us that a property is now occupied and therefore a long-term premium is no longer applicable physical inspections will be carried out to verify the property status.


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