A full Council Tax bill is based on at least two adults living together - more information about how much Council Tax you'll pay is available on paying your Council Tax.

Some adults in a household, such as a student or a carer are not counted for Council Tax purposes - in some circumstances Council Tax does not have to be paid in full and some properties may not have to pay Council Tax at all.

Information on the different discounts and exemptions available are detailed below. 

For further information, or to apply for a discount or exemption:

You’ll get 25% off your bill if you are aged 18 or over and:

  • you are the only adult aged 18 or over living in the property
  • or other adults in the property are not counted for Council Tax purposes, such as a student or carer 

If you are the only adult aged 18 or over in your property 

Households where everyone’s a full-time student don’t have to pay Council Tax. If you do get a bill, you can apply for an exemption - use our online form to tell us about your house occupied by full time students.

To count as a full-time student if you are 20 years of age or over, your course must:

  • involve at least 21 hours study per week and last at least 24 weeks of an academic or calendar year.

If you study for a qualification up to A level and you’re under 20, your course must:

  • last at least 3 months
  • involve at least 12 hours study per week

You’ll get a Council Tax bill if there’s someone in your household who’s not a full-time student, but your household might still qualify for a discount.

Please note that a student discount/exemption can only be considered from the start date to the end date of the course.

Some people are not included when we decide how many people aged 18 or over live in your property.

There may be a Council Tax discount if someone in your house is:

  • a student, student nurse, apprentice or Youth Training Trainee
  • a non-British husband, wife or dependant of a student
  • under 20 and still at school or has just left school or a person who still has child benefit paid for them
  • a foreign-language assistant
  • severely mentally impaired
  • a carer
  • in prison or held somewhere else by the authorities
  • living in a hospital or care home
  • a member of a religious community
  • a person who lives in a hostel for the homeless or a night shelter
  • a member (or dependant) of international headquarters, defence organisations or a visiting force
  • a person with diplomatic immunity or privileges

You may be entitled to a reduced Council Tax bill if your property has been amended to meet particular needs arising from a disability, for example creating extra space indoors for a wheelchair user. Council tax with disabled person's reduction is charged at one band lower than your actual valuation band (band A properties receive a reduction of one-ninth of the charge for band D).

If you have been certified by a medical professional as having a severe mental impairment (SMI), you are not counted as occupying your property for the purposes of council tax.


How to tell if you qualify as SMI:


You are deemed severely mentally impaired if you have been certified by a medical practitioner as having a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which is expected to be permanent and you are receiving or eligible one of the following:


  • attendance allowance under 64 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.
  • severe disablement allowance
  • the highest or middle rate of the care component of a disability living allowance
  • the daily living component of personal independence payment
  • an increase in the rate of your disablement pension (where constant attendance is needed
  • disabled persons tax credit
  • incapacity benefit
  • employment support allowance
  • unemployability allowance or supplement
  • constant attendance allowance or income support including a disability premium.


People who qualify for an exemption

  • If you live alone and have a severe mental impairment you will be exempt from paying any council tax at all.


People who qualify for a discount

  • If you live with others you will still qualify for a discount. If everyone in a property is disregarded, a 50% discount is awarded
  • If everyone but one person in a property is disregarded, a 25% discount is awarded
  • If more than two people are not disregarded, no discount can be awarded.


If you think you are eligible, please contact us via the My Portsmouth contact form, or phone 023 9268 8588

If you are 18-25 years old and are a care leaver, where Portsmouth City Council has acted previously as a corporate parent you will be entitled to a reduction to your council tax.


Please contact us for further information.

Occupants of dwellings classified as an annexe and who are related to the occupier of the main dwelling may claim a 50% discount. This discount is applied after any existing discount that they may be entitled to.

If your property is empty, unfurnished and/or undergoing repairs, you can get a discount on your Council Tax:

  • From 1 April 2016 empty and unfurnished discounts have ceased completely and will no longer be available. 100% of Council Tax will now be charged for all empty and unfurnished properties within the city. This applies to properties, rather than individual Council Tax payers. This means that if you buy or rent a property you will be liable for the full Council Tax charge from the first day, even if the property is still empty.
  • Empty, unfurnished properties needing or undergoing major repair to make them habitable can receive a 40% discount for up to one year. After one year the full Council Tax charge will apply. Anyone wishing to request 40% discount for major/structural works should provide a contact telephone number and request a site visit from the Council Tax department, while the works are taking place.

Please note that unfurnished properties should have sufficient furniture removed to leave the property incapable of occupation.  This does not include carpets and curtains.

Where a property remains unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of two years or more, the City Council may charge an empty homes premium. The level of premium for the financial year beginning 1 April 2019 is 100%.


For the financial year beginning on 1 April 2020

The premium is 100% for properties that have remained unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of at least two years but less than 5 years.

The premium is 200% for properties that have remained unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of at least 5 years.


For the financial year beginning on 1 April 2021

The premium is 100% for properties that have remained unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of at least two years but less than 5 years.

The premium is 200% for properties that have remained unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of at least 5 years but less than 10 years.


The premium is 300% for properties that have remained unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a period of at least 10 years.


Who's in the house? What Council Tax do they pay? 
Two people aged 18 or over, one is a student  25% discount - we do not count the student
One student and one apprentice 50% discount - we do not count either person
Three people aged 18 or over, but only one is a student  No discount is applicable here because we count two people
Two people - an adult and their 14 year-old child 25% discount - we do not count the son

If no Council Tax at all is payable, this is known as an exemption.

All exemptions may have a number of conditions to meet before the exemption is granted, and some exemptions apply only for a specified length of time. Here are some situation where exemptions may apply: 

  Occupied Properties Unoccupied Properties

Properties occupied wholly by:

  • full time students
  • people aged under 18
  • people who are severely mentally impaired
  • diplomats, or those with diplomatic immunity and certain members of their household


 Properties left unoccupied by:

  • full time students
  • people receiving or providing care
  • people moving permanently into nursing or residential homes
  • long-stay hospital patients
  • deceased persons where grant of probate or letters of administration has not been obtained, and for a period of six  months after such grant has been obtained
  • people in prison

Exemptions also apply to:

  • student halls of residence
  • armed forces & visiting forces accommodation
  • 'granny' annexes

Exemptions also apply to:

  • properties which the mortgagee has repossessed
  • properties in the possession of a trustee in bankruptcy
  • dwellings consisting of pitches or moorings not occupied by a caravan, or a boat
  • 'granny' annexes
  • properties held unoccupied for a minister of religion
  • properties where occupation is prohibited by law
  • properties owned and last used by a charity (exempt for up to six months)


For further information on your particular circumstance, or to apply for an exemption please:

The council must be informed, within 21 days, of any changes to liability or entitlement to discount or exemption. If notification is not received within the time limit the council may impose a penalty of £70. This will be added to your Council Tax bill.

If you receive a penalty but disagree with it, you are advised to contact the council as soon as possible giving your reasons and asking for the penalty to be reconsidered. You also have the right to appeal to a Valuation Tribunal, within two months. 


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