There has been relief within the industry following an Appeal Court judgement that landlords are not responsible for paying the council tax on a property after a tenant has moved out but before a tenancy agreement has expired.
The appeal was brought by Leeds City Council which demanded that council tax be paid by a landlord on five properties for periods when the homes were empty but the tenancies had not been formally ended by neither the landlord nor his tenants.
The Residential Landlords’ Association, which had been following the case closely, says the tenancies in question were contractual periodic tenancies following a fixed term: the council’s argument was based on the claim that a single tenancy cannot be both a fixed term and periodic.
The landlord argued that the contract created a single tenancy, the term of which was six months and thereafter continuing as a monthly tenancy. This would have the same effect as a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy.
The council appealed against a High Court rejection of the its claim saying there was no uncertainty of term and that the council tax liability remained with the tenant and not the landlord.
“The RLA is very pleased with this decision which upholds the basic principles of tenure” says David Smith, RLA policy director.