Self-contained units

A self-contained unit means: 'a building, or part of a building, which has been constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation.'

A self-contained unit can mean both a living space that is separate from other accommodation, and also living accommodation that is connected to, and sharing an access with, adjoining accommodation. 

When considering whether any living accommodation is a self-contained unit with its own council tax band, a number of points are taken into account:

  • The physical characteristics and layout must be capable of use as separate living accommodation
  • The physical identity of the accommodation: a self-contained unit will normally not be spread over different parts of a building.
  • Access: A self-contained unit does not need to have its own access to be regarded as self-contained
  • The provision of standard facilities: A self-contained unit would normally have areas capable of use for living and sleeping, for food preparation, for washing and have a WC


  • Accommodation consisting of a living room and a kitchen, with a bedroom and a bathroom situated across a common hallway, is unlikely to be considered a self-contained unit
  • Separate living accommodation with a shared hallway and stairs would be classed as self-contained. However, if the only access to the separate living accommodation is via a living room - such as a reception room or bedroom of the main house, it will not be regarded as self-contained

Where a self-contained unit has had fittings removed, which could easily be reinstated as a matter of normal repair or renewal, then the unit will still be regarded as capable of separate occupation. Similarly, the actual use being made of the rooms in a self-contained unit is not a relevant consideration e.g. the fact that a former living room is used as a bedroom, or a former kitchen is used as a utility room.


The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is responsible for allocating a council tax band to all domestic properties in England and Wales. A property's council tax band is based on what it would have sold for, on the open market, on 1 April 1991 in England and 1 April 2003 in Wales.