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Sunderland City Council Alters Their Policy on Council Tax Responsibility - Again!

Following on from the significant changes in Council Tax rules in April of 2013, a recent legal ruling has prompted Sunderland City Council to change the way they deal with vacating tenants council tax responsibilities

Following on from the significant changes in Council Tax rules in April of 2013, a recent legal ruling has again prompted Sunderland City Council to change the way they deal with vacating tenants council tax responsibilities

The Council has recently begun to treat a vacating tenants responsibilities differently if they are within a Fixed Term Tenancy rather than a "rolling" Periodic Tenancy – this is despite a tenants rights and responsibilities being the exactly the same in the eyes of the law

This all relates to a legal decision originally made 18 months ago but reconfirmed at a tribunal recently on 4th Dec 2013 (CT vs. Horsham District Council)

We can only assume Sunderland City Council have taken this ruling as a trigger to change their policy

In short, the Council have taken to ending a tenant in a Periodic Tenancy's responsibilities for council tax payments when they vacate/return keys, despite from a legal point of view a tenants contractual obligations remaining until the tenancy end date (irrespective of whether they move out or return keys before this)

The majority of tenants move out/return keys on the tenancy end date and in this case there is no issue, however a significant minority physically leave to move into another property before this

Sunderland Council have taken the stance that a tenants responsibilities remain until the end of a Fixed Term tenancy (irrespective of when they move out) but crucially do not take the same view if the tenancy "rolls on" to a Periodic Tenancy

Clearly we will be looking to change our Fully Managed move out procedures to protect our landlords against this

Given all tenants have a contractual obligation under the AST to be responsible for the council tax until the tenancy end date (irrespective of when they move out or the stance taken by the Council), should the Council bill a landlord for any period prior to the tenancy end date it would be reasonable to propose a deduction of the corresponding amount from the vacating tenants deposit

We would advise all Let Only or Private Landlords to be aware of this important change and take appropriate action, as above

For more information on how this change may affect you or for free, impartial lettings advice please call 0191 567 8577 or email neil.whitfield@belvoirlettings.com

 

 

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