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Council Tax and Moving House: Everything You Need To Know!

Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
2nd May 2017 (Last updated on Friday 6th July 2018)

If you will soon be moving house, then you know you have a whole heap of work to do. There’s the packing, hiring your removal company and let’s not forget the admin dance you’ll have to perform. One of the most important things to do is inform the relevant people and organisations of your change of address. Top of that list?… Telling the Local Authority so that you can register for council tax. Whether you rent or own your property, you need to pay council tax.

This article will cover the following points

What is Council Tax? What Happens When you Move House? How is Council Tax Calculated? Council Tax bands in England (based on 1 April 1991 values) Council Tax bands in Wales (based on 1 April 2003 values) Lower Your Property’s Valuation Band How are council tax bands assessed? How much is council tax on average? Properties Exempt from Council Tax

What is Council Tax?

Council tax is a tax on domestic property that the council uses to pay for local services such as schools, rubbish collection, roads, policing, fire services, parks maintenance and street lighting. Council tax came into effect in 1993 replacing poll tax and is based on the market value of your home. You may be a bit flustered with the thought of taking care of council tax when moving house and what it will add to the cost of moving house, but worry not, the Compare My Move team have every little snippet of info you could possibly need right here.

What Happens When you Move House?

When you leave your current address, the local council will send you a final bill which will be taken as a monthly payment. Then you’ll get an annual bill for the property at your new address. If you’re staying in the area and will be paying the same local authority then you can use the same direct debit arrangement. Easy peasy! If you are moving to a new area then you’ll need to set up a new account.

Pointer… If you own your current home and it’s empty when you leave, you still have to pay a (reduced rate) council tax on it. If you are currently renting and leaving that home, you are no longer responsible for the council tax there. It’s good to be clued up on these things so you don’t pay something you shouldn’t or neglect to pay something you should.

Helpful Tip - Don’t wait for the ‘new occupier’ letter to come through the door after you have moved. You might think that if you wait a little while, you may be able to delay having to make extra payments during what will surely be a very busy time financially. Your council tax responsibilities start promptly from the day that you move into your new address. They will backdate so you are just delaying the inevitable. This is why it is best to get on top of these things in the run up to moving house. It is also beneficial to you in other ways to make sure you take care of this administration before you move. You don’t want to find yourself paying unnecessary tax for a home you aren’t living at anymore. You will need to inform the Local Authority of where you are moving from and where you are moving to. You will find a ‘change of address’ page on your Local Authority’s website.

How is Council Tax Calculated?

The amount of council tax that you need to pay is decided by your local authority. Their decision will be based on the amount they need to raise and on where your property sits in the valuation band.

The valuation bands are based on the price the property would have sold for on 1 April 1991 for England and Scotland, and 1 April 2003 for Wales. All homes are banded with the same guidelines and criteria. This means that even homes bought under discount schemes such as ‘Right to Buy’ will be banded on the same basis so any discount on the property will not be considered when setting the band. If you will be moving into a new build house then it might be even more difficult to know what the property would have been valued at in 1991/2003. If you don’t have any idea what that might be then you can backwards value your home here.

Depending on where you live, the amount you pay will vary. England and Scotland have eight council tax valuation bands ranging from A (the highest) to H. Wales has nine bands, from 1 (the highest) to 9. Northern Ireland has domestic rates based on rental values rather than council tax. Council Tax bands in England (based on 1 April 1991 values) Reference

Council Tax bands in England (based on 1 April 1991 values)


Value at 1 April 1991


up to £40,000


£40,001 to £52,000


£52,001 to £68,000


£68,001 to £88,000


£88,001 to £120,000


£120,001 to £160,000


£160,001 to £320,000


more than £320,000


Council Tax bands in Wales (based on 1 April 2003 values)


Value at 1 April 2003


up to £44,000


£44,001 to £65,000


£65,001 to £91,000


£91,001 to £123,000


£123,001 to £162,000


£162,001 to £223,000


£223,001 to £324,000


£324,001 to £424,000


more than £424,000


Lower Your Property’s Valuation Band

It’s safe to say that the process of evaluating the homes in 1991 was rushed, it’s possible that up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland could be in the wrong council tax band, and you could be paying too much in your new home. If you think this is the case, you can challenge it. You will get a decision from the Valuation Office Agency within two months, but in the meantime, you still have to pay council tax.

How are council tax bands assessed?

The VOA (Valuation Office Agency) will assess a property during a council tax challenge or a review. They will also assess new build properties automatically and any properties that have been extended or adjusted in any way. There are a few things taken into consideration, such as the size and layout of the property as well as location and of course, the value of the property in 91 (England) and 03 (Wales)

If you aren’t sure what council tax band you will fall into at your new address, just enter your postcode here and find out!

How much is council tax on average?

So, like we said, this does vary but for argument or information’s sake, the average bands are listed below.

  • England’s average band D (2015-16): £1,484
  • Wales’ average band D (2016-17): £1,374
  • Scotland’s average band D (2016-17): £1,592

Properties Exempt from Council Tax

Council Tax is something that all Brits have to pay. There are, in some circumstances, instances where a property is exempt from council tax. This will be situations such as when the home is entirely occupied by students or if all those living at the property are under 18 years of age. If you are moving into Armed Forces Accommodation then won’t have to worry about council tax and there are also exceptions for homes having extensive work or when a home is unoccupied following the death of the owner. But, if none of these applies to you then you gotta pay! Those are the rules.

We hope this information has helped you with part of your moving house admin. You will also find a treasure trove of information in our advice centre and of course, don’t forget to compare the cost of removal companies.

And there you have it.

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