Do we have to pay estate charges and council tax?

Our property lawyer Fiona McNulty answers your questions
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Question: Where we live every resident has to pay an estate charge as well as council tax. The estate is looked after by a housing association, which, in return, collects the estate charge from us.

The council incurs no expenditure at all in respect of the estate, yet it is still collecting full council tax from us. Can this be right?

Answer: An estate charge is levied against property owners to help fund the provision of services and to carry out repairs and maintenance on the estate where the property is situated.

The estate charge is not for repairs or maintenance to your individual property but is for services that benefit the estate as a whole, such as street or car park lighting and the maintenance of communal areas, for example, playgrounds.

These areas or services are not maintained at public expense and are on privately owned land, and indeed, the provisions relating to the estate charge should be contained in your title documents.

An estate charge enables the cost of providing the various services on the estate to be shared by all the properties there which enjoy the services. Estate charges may be the same for each property, or may vary according to the rateable value of the property, the number of rooms or the floor area, and they generally include a fee for the management of the estate.

Council tax is charged and collected by local authorities to help fund local services such as refuse collections, the police and schools. It is calculated according to the rateable value of a property and the number of people living at the property.

It seems that your local authority is quite properly charging you council tax to pay for the various services it provides. The fact that you are living on an estate and are required to pay an estate charge is irrelevant because your council tax relates to far wider services than just the maintenance of your estate.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms & estates team at Withy King LLP (

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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