Student Systems and Records Office

Council Tax FAQ's

1. What is Council Tax?

Council Tax is charged by local authorities to help pay for certain public services such as schools, rubbish collection, roads and street lighting. It is based on the value of property in which you live.  The level of the charge may be reduced depending upon the number of adults living in the property and their circumstances.

2. Who has to pay Council Tax?

A person's liability to pay will normally be based upon residence in the property but sometimes it will be the responsibility of a non-resident owner. However, some people are exempt from paying council tax, or are eligible for a reduction.

3. Will I have to pay Council Tax if I am a full-time student living in University owned accommodation?

No council tax will be payable. All University-owned or managed Halls of Residence are exempt from council tax.

4. Will I have to pay Council Tax if I am a full-time student living in a private rented shared house with other full time students?

You will not have to pay if you apply for student exemption. If you are living in the Brighton Area (postcodes BN1, BN2, BN3, or BN41 you just need to complete the Student reduction application form. If living outside of this area, you will need to submit a Council Tax Exemption Letter to your local council tax office. Request a Council Tax Exemption Letter from the Student Systems & Records Office.

5. Will I have to pay Council Tax if I am a full-time student living in a shared house, sharing with non-students (or part-time students)?

A council tax bill for residence will be payable but the full-time student tenants will not be held liable. The person or people who are not students will be liable to pay. If you arrange to live with someone who is not a full-time student, they should be warned that the bill may be high. If there is only one non-student in the property, a discount may be applied for.

6. What is the definition of a full-time student for Council Tax purposes?

You will count as a student if you are on a course which lasts at least one academic year; and requires attendance for at least 24 weeks per year; and involves at least 21 hours of study, classes or work experience per week during term time.

7. What documents do I need to prove that I am a full-time student for Council Tax purposes?

Each local authority will decide what evidence is required. They will usually need a Council Tax Exemption Letter. Request a Council Tax Exemption letter from the Student Systems & Records Office.

8. I have received a Council Tax bill but I think I qualify for exemption - what should I do?

You should contact the council immediately and check that they have received a Council Tax Exemption Letter from you. The council will tell you what they need and if you have to fill out any forms. If your address is located within the Brighton & Hove City Council area then that is the council you should contact. Contact details for Brighton & Hove City Council can be found online here.

9. Who do I contact if I have a query about a Council Tax bill?

You should contact the council immediately either by email, phone, or in person. If your address is located within the Brighton & Hove City Council area then that is the council you should contact. Contact details for Brighton & Hove City Council can be found online here.

10. Am I eligible for Council Tax exemption even though I am a PhD student in my writing up year?

We may be able give you a Council Tax Exemption Letter if you can prove you are working full time at writing up your thesis. Once you have submitted your thesis, you may not be entitled to an exemption any longer. We cannot give those who have submitted their thesis a Council Tax Exemption Letter but we can give you Confirmation of Student Status letter (which shows attendance dates and registration status) which you can take to the council. The Council will then decide if you have pay the tax.

For further information, please contact the Research Student Administration Office (RSAO) at researchstudentoffice@sussex.ac.uk.

11. Am I eligible for Council Tax exemption if I need to re-submit my PhD Thesis?

If you have to re-submit your thesis following Minor/Major Corrections, your case for exemption will be assessed on an individual basis by the Council.

For further information, please contact the Research Student Administration Office (RSAO) at researchstudentoffice@sussex.ac.uk.

12. My Student registration has ended but I am staying in my accommodation until graduation – am I still exempt?

No. Council Tax is usually payable if you remain in the property between completion of your course and graduation.

13. I am an international student living with my husband or wife, who is here as my dependant. Will we have to pay Council Tax?

As a full-time student, you can apply for exemption, provided that you are registered on a full-time course that is expected to last for at least one academic year. Your spouse can also apply for exemption provided that he or she is not a British citizen and is prevented by the terms of their leave (visa) from taking paid employment or claiming benefits. You will need to show the City Council your spouse's passport as proof of their status.

14. Can I get Council Tax exemption if I am studying at Sussex as part of an Erasmus/Study Abroad program?

Please see ‘Erasmus / Study Abroad Students’ information.

15. Can I claim Council Tax exemption if I am studying on a part time course?

No. You need to be a full time student to qualify for exemption.

16. Can I claim Council Tax exemption if I am studying at the Sussex Centre for Language Studies (SCLS) on a short course/multiple short courses?

It is unlikely that you will be able to claim Council Tax exemption as you are not on a continuous course. If you would like to dispute this please contact SCLS who can provide a record of the courses you are attending and you can take this to the Council for them to assess.

17. I am awaiting resits. Can I claim Council Tax exemption?

Final year students who are taking resits after their expected end date are not eligible for council tax exemption for that period.

Final year students who completed their course and received an interim Award, but were given the opportunity to resit to improve their Award, are not eligible for Council Tax exemption for the resit period.

19. I plan to move into my private accommodation prior to my course start date – am I exempt?

You are liable to pay council tax if living in private accommodation for the period between moving in and your course start date.