Council Tax Responsibility on periodic tenancy?

by Readers Question

8:39 AM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

Council Tax Responsibility on periodic tenancy?

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Council Tax Responsibility on periodic tenancy?

I received this from Leeds City Council in relation to a tenant who had done a runner. I am disputing being liable for one months council tax. Here’s what they said Council Tax Responsibility on periodic tenancy……

Council Tax law states that on a periodic tenancy an occupier may only be held liable for the Council Tax charge until they change their main residence. In this case, we have been notified that her main residence changed on 2 September 2013, so we can only legally charge her for Council Tax until then as her ‘material interest’ in the property is no longer active.

While I appreciate she would have had rental liability until her notice expired, Council Tax can only be charged where there is a ‘material interest’ and this is defined as having ownership of the property or being bound by a minimum of a 6 month tenancy.

With regard to Oyston vs Leeds City Council , this was a tribunal decision in 2011 which went against Leeds City Council. Leeds City Council thought that the tribunal was wrong in law, but we didn’t appeal because we thought it was a one off rogue decision. Tribunal decisions are not binding on other tribunals and so the Oyston case did not set precedent.

Since then, the High Court has clarified the position in the QBD case MacAttram vs LBC 2012. High Court decisions are binding, and this case confirmed that tenants on periodic tenancies do not have a material interest, unless the rent is payable every 6 months or more (very rare, as rent is usually paid monthly).

Unless the MacAttram case is overturned by a Court of Appeal decision in the future, this will remain the position in English law.

Regards

Adrian



Comments

Mark Alexander

8:40 AM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi Adrian

This matter has previously been debated at length here at Property118, please see this thread >>> http://www.property118.com/council-tax-periodic-tenancy/65297/
.

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

9:44 AM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

its one of those unavoidable things... even if the tenant lies about when they left - the council will always believe the tenant's date of departure.....

Peter Brown

13:00 PM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

Had a similar tenant vacate early and Council demand for tax. She was tied into a 6 month AST so I sent a copy to the council and problem went away.

Worked out well for me but my lesson...no more periodic tenancies.

Yvette Newbury

14:17 PM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

I do not as a rule enter periodic tenancies except for the rare occasion where a tenant asks to stay just 1 more month to get themselves sorted. In this case they do not inform the council they have vacated until they have left, so far I have not had a problem.

What does annoy me though is when I write to the Council Tax team informing them of the names of all new tenants, then the tenant contacts them with a completely different name and the Council put the council tax in that name. Then months later they contact me querying who's living there! If they want confirmation from me, why won't they take the details from the landlord from the start! In all cases this occurs, the name of the person for council tax will be a student meaning the Council end up with zero council tax.

Mike T

14:47 PM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

In torbay, Devon, it takes 3 months for them to do the 'paperwork' ? Now after 4 months of notifying them of a change of tenant and giving full names etc they write to tell me that as the house is listed as being empty (!) for a long period .............blah, blah. Whats up with the systems here ? Updating details is all done by computers and is instant surely .

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

15:42 PM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

i have never had a council refuse to accept my word that the tenants are "mr and mrs blah blah" when new tenants move in.... but as we all know.. different councils... chalk and cheese....

Romain Garcin

21:07 PM, 8th August 2014
About 4 years ago

The solution is to make sure that the tenancy agreement contains a clause maiking the tenant responsible the council tax.
That way, if the landlord has to pay the council he can go after the tenant to recover the money.

Mr Chaps

20:03 PM, 16th November 2016
About 2 years ago

OK I am in a similar position, again, HB tenant, on 6 month contract, spends first months HB themselves, I request direct payments and also seek payment form tenant for the missing rent.

typically the AST goes to *contractual* periodic becuase I won't start a new tenancy period with a tenant in arrears/other issues.
direct HB payments contiune for some period, inthis case 12 months, untilt he tenant does a runner and tells council they moved out some weeks or months before they did indeed leave.

I then have to contest HB claw back and Council Tax, luckily since I am a conscientious landlord I normally have some witness /documentaiton of the tenant's continued occupation through reapris, gas safety etc and have normally managed to prevent clawback of HB but thne have to ahve the same argument regarding council tax.

In this case I have been less sucessful but now I see this recent case and wonder if I can quote this to challenge Leeds council belief that a contractual periodic tenancy is not a material interest and they accept the workd od the tenant versus the documentaion and witness I have (including a police incident?!)

Leeds City Council v Broadley [2016] EWHC 1839 (Admin)

the sums are realtively small but the prinicple seems important to me me when I'm already out 1220 in rent plus 1500 or so in damages that I can't see myself being able to retrieve from the tenant with no assets, assuming can track them down?

MR Chaps

Old Mrs Landlord

20:57 PM, 16th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Y L Newbury " at "08/08/2014 - 14:17":

Thanks for the heads up on this scam (CT in name of student or someone other than true tenant) which does not seem to have reached our part of the country yet. Of course it is possible to state tenant's liability for council tax in the tenancy agreement as Romain suggests, but experience indicates that tenants who don't pay council tax also tend to get into rent arrears and have difficulties paying other bills such as utilities, which results in enforced installation of key meters without any communication with the actual owner of the property.


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