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Housing - Cannot afford council tax

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You can pay council tax in 10 or 12 monthly instalments. If you miss a payment, the council should send you a reminder giving you seven days to pay the outstanding amount.

The reminder should state:

  • the outstanding amount to be paid
  • that if you do not pay the outstanding amount within seven days, you will lose your right to pay in instalments and become liable to pay the outstanding amount for the whole financial year

If you pay the outstanding amount but miss a payment later in the year, your next reminder should state that if you miss a third payment in the same financial year, you automatically lose your right to pay in instalments without a reminder being sent out.

Second reminder

You lose your right to pay by instalments if you have already received a reminder, but have not paid the missing instalment.

Your second reminder will state that you have 14 days to pay the whole amount outstanding for the remainder of the financial year.

Some councils may still accept payments in instalments, but this depends on their discretion.


The information is this guide is based on the Shelter website and is correct as of December 2014. It is for England and Wales only. Click here to see the full guide.

Shelter gives practical housing advice and support online, in person and by phone. Our expert advisers give free, confidential advice 365 days a year, helping with everything from mortgage arrears to finding a place to sleep. If you need help email Shelter at: or call 0300 330 1234. Click here to visit the Shelter website or to make a donation.

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