Council tax when moving house – update your bill

Author: Kim Jacobs

Moving houses is a complicated endeavour and it often-times includes much more to plan, prepare for and do than one might expect. In addition to finding the right place to relocate to, arranging everything with your landlord, and hiring movers to help you with the physical relocation from point A to Point B, you will also need to take care of quite a lot of paperwork.

Managing what you are going to do with your council tax when moving houses is one of those things that people often forget they need to handle until the last moment. At the same time, it is a crucial element of your relocation – to pay council tax is the responsibility of every resident of UK cities, and failing to do so, or failing to notify your current and your new council about your relocation will cause unnecessary headaches when the time for the council tax bill to arrive comes.

Setting up a direct debit for your council tax at your new address can simplify the process of paying council tax, ensuring that payments are made automatically and on time. This minimizes the risk of missed payments and potential penalties.

Do you need to notify your council when moving houses?

The short answer to that question is yes because your council tax isn’t going to get updated automatically when you move houses. You need to inform your council about your upcoming change in address in due time.

Upon moving home, it’s crucial to update the address details linked to your council tax account. This ensures that all communication and bills are sent to your new location without any delay.

Notify council deadline

It doesn’t matter whether you are just renting a house or an apartment, or you are a home owner. Throughout the UK, the legal responsibility of notifying the council about changes in their tax information belongs to the tenant or the home owner.

Filling out the necessary tax form before your move from the old property address to the new property before your moving date will make sure that your council tax bill gets updated in due time and that you are going to continue receiving communal services such as rubbish collection.

In most cases, you will not have to make the trip to your new council building, because there will be an online form that you can fill out instead. The online form allowing you a change of address should be located on your new council’s website. Generally, it is not an overwhelming task to fill it. To speed up the process and ensure you don’t have to get back to it and make revisions once you are done, you might want to prepare a number of things in advance.

Get your dates clear

If you are buying a property at the new address, as well as you will need the date the deal was completed. If you are renting, get the tenant contract you’ve signed with your landlord, so that you can fill in the date your tenancy agreement was signed.

All the names should be known

Those include the names of your new tenants if you are a landlord, as well as the names – including surnames – of the new property owners if you are selling your place. For those of you moving into new premises, no matter whether they are rented accommodations or you will be buying the house – make sure to get the information of the previous tenants and owners.

Understanding your council tax band at the new property is important. Each local council assigns a tax band based on the property’s value, which directly affects the amount of tax you’ll be required to pay.

The physical location of the property

The online form you will be required to fill out to start paying council tax when moving house at your new address will require the street address, along with the postcode of your new property. Double-check that one, because any mistakes here will definitely cause you additional headaches.

What happens if you don’t register to pay council tax on time?

Missed council tax deadline

It is quite possible that you will receive a tax bill for the previous place that you occupied. In addition to that, your new – and actual – council may fine you for failing to register to pay council tax with them. In addition to that, failing to pay your council tax when moving house might result in you losing your privileges as a resident of the council in question – such as rubbish collection, and other tenancy services offered by the council authority.

When do you need to register with your new local council?

In the ideal case, you should tell your new local council you will be moving into their territory as soon as any tenancy or homeowner contracts are signed and eventually start paying council tax. The preferred period is at least a month prior to you moving into your new home address.

If you’re leaving a rental property, make sure to cancel council tax account that you have at your current address to avoid being charged for a property you no longer reside in. This is especially important if you are moving house to a different local authority area.

Make sure that you have all the information prepared in advance – the names of previous tenants and property owners who lived at your new address, as well as the names of anyone over the age of 18 who is going to live with you at your new house or apartment.

What is a local council tax band

Council bands - types of homes

In the UK, council tax bands determine the amount of local council tax each household pays. These bands are based on the value of the property, with each council tax band representing a range of values. The valuation is set by the Valuation Office Agency and typically reflects the property’s value on a specified date. Properties are placed into one of several bands, with higher valued properties paying more council tax. This tax funds local services like rubbish collection, libraries, and schools.

Can you not pay a council tax on an empty property?

Empty property

Even though there are certain provisions in the law that may allow you to get tax-exempt status for your council tax when about to move house, the majority of the UK’s local councils will make sure to bill you even if you are not living in the house or apartment.

This is done to discourage property owners from leaving properties vacant in the current property market situation. There are provisions in the law that allow your local authority to charge you up to four times your normal local authority council tax bill if the property remains empty for ten years or more. Since your council tax bill is based on the market value of the property, this may account for quite a hefty sum. Certain categories of people – those with physical or mental health impairments, or the unemployed, might be eligible for a council tax reduction. You might want to check with the valuation office agency to see if you qualify for such a reduction.

How to cancel your current council tax?

It is only natural that you might worry about getting into a situation when you receive two council tax bills at the same time – one for your old address, and one for the new one. In theory, once you register for council tax with your local council about moving to the new property, they should automatically cancel the charges for the old place in your final bill. It is worth it to double-check with your old council local authority though, just to make sure all the paperwork has arrived and you will not be unpleasantly surprised when it comes time to pay your council tax after moving home.

About the Author:

Kim Jacobs is a removals coordinator with over 11 years of experience as part of the Get man and van team and other firms in the home and office relocation industry in London. Before joining our company, Kim has worked in various logistical and transportation companies and institutions such as Transport for London, The Removals Ombudsman, and has coordinated moving projects with some of the biggest suppliers of various goods such as IKEA, HomeBase, Amazon, Sainsbury's and others. While working as a chief removals coordinator, Kim also enjoys sharing her expertise with others through writing in our blog.

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