So, in this blog post, I’m going to quickly address two frequently asked questions related to council tax for single-let rental properties in England & Wales:
- Who is responsible for council tax, landlord or tenant?
- Who is responsible for notifying the council when new tenants move in?
Who is responsible for council tax, landlord or tenant?
Generally speaking, the occupant (i.e. the tenant) is responsible for paying council tax. As a landlord of single-let properties, there has never been a case where I have been responsible for paying the council tax while the property is occupied.
There isn’t a law specifying who should be responsible for council tax, so it is possible for the landlord to take responsibility for the council tax, but from my experience, it’s extremely unusual for single-let properties.
In any case, it should be reflected in the terms of the tenancy agreement to whom is responsible, whether it be tenant or landlord, so there is no confusion. Similarly, it should be made clear who is responsible for all the other utility bills (e.g. gas and electricity).
Follow this link to find out which council band your property is in so you can determine the monthly rate.
Common scenarios where the landlord is responsible for council tax
- If the property is a HMO (i.e. NOT a single-let)
- During void periods (i.e. when the property is occupied)
IMPORTANT NOTE: if your tenant is responsible for paying council tax…
If your tenant is responsible for paying council tax on your property, it’s important that they register their new occupancy with their local council tax department soon as they move into the premises.
Ultimately, it is the tenant’s responsibility to register their new residency. However, some tenants forget to do it (it’s happened to me on multiple occasions), so it’s always best to remind them it’s their responsibility at the start of the tenancy.
If the records aren’t updated, the person named on file will continue to receive the bills (that will usually be the landlord or the previous tenant’s).
I once received a big fat Council Tax bill addressed to my rental property which I wasn’t responsible for. My tenant evidently forgot to register as the new occupants, and I received the bill because I had registered myself as the person responsible for the council tax during the void period between tenancies.
Fortunately, it wasn’t really a huge deal, but it is unnecessary hassle that’s better avoided.
To resolve the issue, I contacted my local council tax department and explained the situation (i.e. my tenant’s are the occupants and were occupants for the period covered in the bill I received). The council then sent my tenant a council tax registration form to confirm their occupancy of the property. Once that had been processed, the bills were then redirected to my tenant.
It’s worth noting that I wouldn’t be totally surprised if other councils don’t handle similar issues as efficiently, so just to emphasise, it’s best to keep records up to date ASAP.
If you have any questions or concerns with your council tax, you should contact your local council tax office.
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.