Who is responsible for council tax when a property is abandoned?

by Readers Question

16:36 PM, 8th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Who is responsible for council tax when a property is abandoned?

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Who is responsible for council tax when a property is abandoned?

My understanding is that when a tenant abandons a property, they are responsible for the utility bills (gas, water, electric, phone) up until the end of their contract or until a new tenant moves in.

It appears that if you send the utility company a copy of the AST, and in the terms it states that the tenant is responsible for these bills (which include a daily charge!), they will not put the account into the landlords name and it will stay with the tenant.

What about the council tax, especially now that local councils won’t give you an exemption period between tenants?

Personally I am going to try this but would love to hear from anyone who can confirm the position.

John SpeakmanWho is responsible for council tax when a property is abandoned?



Comments

Lynette Morris

15:26 PM, 10th July 2013
About 5 years ago

I have had NO probs in getting all utilities you have mentioned to keep responsibilty with the abandoning tenant to the end of AST or until a new tenant moved in within the relevant time frame. In signing ASTs tenants make themselves fully responsibilty. Make sure if more than one tenant they are jointly and severally responsible For the full amounts, in case only one 'does a runner'.

DC

17:36 PM, 10th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Council tax is on the property and not the occupant(s) so if it is cleared of all furnishings during a tenancy period and the local council is informed then any exemption period would commence (if that particular council still allows an exemption from council tax). After the exemption expires and/or when the tenant has departed the property and notified the council the property owner becomes responsible for any council tax due.
If, however, the property has been abandoned and is still furnished then council tax is still due and would be the responsibility of the tenant whilst still within a tenancy agreement period.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a council to bill the owner of the property in these circumstances so a copy of a signed tenancy agreement should be forwarded to that council pointing out that the debt belongs to the missing tenant until notice is given or the tenancy period comes to an end.

andrew townshend

18:48 PM, 10th July 2013
About 5 years ago

councils do try it on in these cases, i maintain c t is the responsibility of the tenant until tenancy is legally over.

Ray Davison

21:22 PM, 10th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "andrew townshend" at "10/07/2013 - 18:48":

Yes Andrew I agree but does someone out there no chapter and verse the council tax regulations and how we ensure the council treat it as such?

Ray Davison

21:24 PM, 10th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Question to Mark Alexander:

Do you know and expert in this field who can help us define these responsibilities.

Mark Alexander

22:44 PM, 10th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ray Davison" at "10/07/2013 - 21:24":

Sorry, I don't, I was hoping one would step forward on this thread and provide another useful contact for box of tricks.

So far I think DC has provided the most logical answer.

Ray Davison

22:49 PM, 10th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/07/2013 - 22:44":

Thanks Mark, maybe someone with the knowledge set will see this thread.

I agree with DC too but if a tenancy has gone periodic its almost impossible to get them to accept it is still the absent tenants responsibility.

DC

12:09 PM, 11th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Under Section 6 (2) (e) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 you need to prove that the tenant is still the resident i.e. he or she is still subject to an existing tenancy agreement and has not seen out a notice period to vacate.
It would also be beneficial if you can demonstrate that the tenant still has possessions within the property and that mail is still being sent to him or her at the address.
If you can justify a power of lawful entry for which there would be various reasons this should be straight forward.
In respect of a periodic tenancy situation your tenancy agreement should hopefully cover this.

Ray Davison

16:06 PM, 11th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "DC " at "11/07/2013 - 12:09":

Thanks DC. If a tenancy becomes a Statutory Periodic Tenancy and the tenant has not given written notice then the tenancy continues and the tenant remains liable for council tax until a court order for possession is obtained. This would be true whether or not the tenant is actually living there. However getting a council to agree to this is very difficult. Do you have any advice on how we can persuade a council to accept this.

DC

19:28 PM, 11th July 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ray Davison" at "11/07/2013 - 16:06":

Due to a similar query I put to my local authority just last week I was advised that they would accept the written word by letter or email from a letting agent to confirm whether a tenant was still resident or not and that the property was still furnished at the relevant time. This related to a tenant giving notice but vacating the property nearly two months before the date that the agreement actually ended.
The council representative stated that this policy fits in with their requirements and interpretation of the law, which does seem to be fairly reasonable, although in my case I have lost the benefit of the one month exemption period this council now offers.
As I said in my opening post, because the tax is on the property and not necessarily an occupant she appears to be right in her advice.
The crux of the matter though is being able to prove that someone is still resident otherwise the property owner/mortgagee is liable as per the section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (and 2012 amendments).
Link to the Act:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/14/section/6#commentary-c1207288

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