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Landlords duties to notify Council tax

Pete at CAB
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Welfare Benefits Adviser’ for Citizens Advice Cornwall

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Does a landlord have an unequivocal duty to notify Council Tax when someone moves into a property owned and rented out by him?

I have a cl who has had what appears to be a routine shorthold tenancy since November last year. The cl has never had any sort of Council tax bill (either in their name or ‘to the occupier’) and we have to asume that the landlord is probably paying the bill but we dont know this for certain. It may be that the house has been registered as empty and therefore exempt or only liable to a lower bill.  The landlord now wants to pass on the cost of Council tax to the cl.

This would not be to the cl’s advantage, they are on UC and would get quite a lot of Council Tax Benefit whereas the landlord is likely to want them to pay the full amount.

What concerns the cl is if they contact Council Tax they might be asked to pay Council Tax from November last year and at that time they were not likely to get any Council Tax Benefit.

If it was an unequivocal duty of the landlord to notify the Council then we could possibly argue that it is the landlord’s liability to pay any shortfall.

As far as I can see Reg3 of the The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 only say that the landlord is compelled to provide information about tenant if asked and the same seems to apply to the tenants themselves.

If anyone has any further thoughts or information I would be grateful

Elliot Kent
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I dunno, but most standard ASTs will make the tenant liable for council tax as between the parties.

When the true postion is made known to the council, won’t they just bill your client and refund the landlord?

JonUCN
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Pete at CAB - 17 May 2024 11:33 AM

It may be that the house has been registered as empty and therefore exempt or only liable to a lower bill.  The landlord now wants to pass on the cost of Council tax to the cl.

There’s no general exemption any more for empty dwellings, the council would need to have placed it in one of the special groups. https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/council-tax/get-money-off-your-council-tax/money-off-council-tax-for-empty-homes/

I can’t think of many good reasons that a landlord would prefer to pay a bill, rather than just tell the council that there’s a tenant. Any chance it’s an HMO?

Elliot Kent
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JonUCN - 17 May 2024 05:17 PM

I can’t think of many good reasons that a landlord would prefer to pay a bill, rather than just tell the council that there’s a tenant.

It’s a selective licensing area and they don’t have a licence is one that crops up…

 

Pete at CAB
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Welfare Benefits Adviser’ for Citizens Advice Cornwall

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Elliot Kent - 17 May 2024 05:18 PM
JonUCN - 17 May 2024 05:17 PM

I can’t think of many good reasons that a landlord would prefer to pay a bill, rather than just tell the council that there’s a tenant.

It’s a selective licensing area and they don’t have a licence is one that crops up…

I get the impression that the landlord is (being diplomatic) ‘unfamiliar’ with the niceties of renting out a house!

chacha
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Pete at CAB - 17 May 2024 11:33 AM

As far as I can see Reg3 of the The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 only say that the landlord is compelled to provide information about tenant if asked and the same seems to apply to the tenants themselves. If anyone has any further thoughts or information I would be grateful

Not completely sure about all the facts of your case but this was addressed in a COA prosecution (CTAX) case. A relevant person, landlord, tenant, occupier has no duty to disclose BUT there are other statutory provisions available to an LA to pursue recovery.

https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2019/209.html