Am I really liable for council tax?

Am I really liable for council tax?

0:01 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago 19

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Hello, I have a 5 year HMO licence on a property in London until 2024. During Covid we found it difficult to find suitable tenants and in 2021 decided to rent the whole house to one family on an AST contract.

The council have informed me I am liable for the council tax for this period as I did not surrender the HMO licence when I rented the house on an AST contract.

I have sent a copy of the tenancy agreement to the council which clearly states the tenants are responsible for paying the council tax bill for their duration in the property.

The council are insisting I have to pay the council tax bill as this is a HMO licensed property.

I fail to understand why the council will not issue the council tax bill in the tenant’s name.

Any assistance on this matter would be appreciated.

Thank you,

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Mark Hulbert

11:00 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

Councils will try anything to extract money from landlords - their default (and the utility companies) is to come to the landlord whenever a bill hasn't been paid.
Why has the council tax not already been paid by the single-let tenant? - it's important that you, as the landlord, inform the council (and utilities) when someone responsible for paying those charges moves in.
On a side-note, we and others had a huge rise in demand for HMO rooms during Covid - why do you think you didn't?


11:02 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

Interesting, would have expected them to amend to Occupiers liability under AST.
Seems unreasonable, speak to the HMO section as license covers you for 5 years so from my understanding there is no material change as now ‘single family’ and if circs change as licensed can revert to HMO if needs be.


11:03 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

Im not a lawyer but in my opinion you are not liable for Council tax. As this falls on the tenant(s) when you have a single AST. Even if it is a shared house HMO and you have a single AST the tenant(s) are liable to pay the council tax so long as that is written into the AST agreement. The licence has no bearing on your liability for council tax ... But please let us know how you get on with this (as I also have an licensed HMO on an AST where the tenant pays the Council tax.)

11:03 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago


....................a single dwelling, unless exceptional circumstances apply


11:09 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Hulbert at 20/01/2023 - 11:00
'we and others had a huge rise in demand for HMO rooms during Covid' ... not in London. At lot of young professionals left.

David Houghton

11:12 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

Occupiers liability is related to accidents. The important legislation is the Council tax act 1992 plus amendments. It's available on line.

It's nothing to do with licensing

Make a complaint then someone more senior has to deal with it. Ask them where in the council tax act 1992 does it say the landlord not the occupier is liable

Richard Hemingway

11:42 AM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

I would agree with the above comments regarding the council tax. The council are trying it on and would not have a leg to stand on in court.
Tread carefully, if this was in my area then the local authority would no longer class this as a HMO. By renting the whole property to a single family you would instantly loose the C4 classification (HMO) and it would revert to a C3 (dwellinghouse). If / when you decide to rent it out as a HMO, you would need to obtain planning to go from C3 to C4 which for most areas of the city is almost impossible due to the restrictions on HMO density within a radius of the property in question.
You may already have C3/C4 mixed use if this was applied for or the rules may be different in your area.
Good luck.


12:00 PM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

Thank you for all your support and have emailed a complaint to the council and have to wait 10 days for the council to respond.
During covid most people were on furlough or working from home & evictions were not allowed, so many tenants vacated their rooms to live with their families as this was the cheaper option, hence the reason alot of London properties were empty during covid.
I will send further updates when the council reply

Judith Wordsworth

12:21 PM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

As long as you let the Council Tax department know of a change of responsibility ie your tenant was taking over council tax payment even if your tenant has not paid I think they are the ones the LA department should be chasing.
As David Houghton said asked the Department where in the Council Tax Act does it say the landlord and not the occupier is responsible if the occupier has an AST. The person you speak to probably hasn't even heard of the CTA lol.
For them though it is easier to chase the landlord.


14:46 PM, 20th January 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Stephen at 20/01/2023 - 11:03
I am not lawyer either as Stephen, but I have similar circumstance as LL with licenced HMO. I recently rented one of the licenced to a group of friends under one AST through a well known letting agency and because they are friends NO family I required to have licence which I got and rented whereby the tenants pay the CTX, and all utilities. as I understand from the letting agent, there is legal precedent where council lost the case and tenant made liable to pay.

As Stephen mentioned, there must be in the AST who is responsible. LL is only responsible if is rented by room with several ASTs under 1 licence as a matter of practically.

So, if I were you search for any legal dispute case and write to Council and it may be worth to tell the council that you will dispute in council. Many time council clerk with not training try to get money from LLs...

I have been arguing in this portal the necessity of having a Trade Union Style LLs association with legal muscle. This kind of situation would require a letter send to the particular council with clear point that they are wrong and should stop harassing.

Good luck and let us know of any progress

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