Category Archives: Council Tax

Council Tax … change to how we treat liability at the end of a tenancy.

This is a quick update on Council Tax liability when a tenancy ends. As you probably know, there is no longer an exemption for empty properties. Landlords are normally liable to pay the tax on an empty property until a new tenant moves in.

However, we might still charge the former tenant, if they move out during the term of an Assured Shorthold tenancy, without the landlord’s agreement, until

  • the set period of the tenancy reaches its end
  • the landlord agrees to accept a premature end, or
  • re-enters the property and takes possession back.

As soon as any of these happens, the landlord is again responsible, until a new tenant moves in. However, it’s different for tenancies that continue beyond their initial term. To be technical, if a tenant stays after an Assured Shorthold Tenancy term expires, it automatically becomes a ‘Statutory Periodic Tenancy.’ Informally, this is known as ‘rolling over.’

This is the important bit: Our Council Tax Billing team now advise that if a tenant moves out at any point once a tenancy has rolled over, the landlord will liable for Council Tax, immediately. Irrespective of whether notice was given or an end date had been agreed.

We hope to put out more information about this shortly in our next edition of the ‘Bugle’ magazine for Sandwell Landlords. Please note this post is not intended as a definitive statement of the regulations.

Oliver

 

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Council Tax … Accessing your account online.

This might not be the most exciting subject for a blog post, but we hope its something that is going to make life a lot easier for many of our customers, including landlords.

We’ve just launched a new service, ‘Citizen Access View’ or CAV, accessible via our website which gives customers online access to their Council Tax accounts. It will also hold a limited amount of information about people’s Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction claims. It gives you, the account holder the ability to check all sorts of information when you want it, without having to sit in a phone queue, wait for an email response or come and see us in one of offices. The new service is aimed at the public in general and not specifically at landlords. However, when compared to other residents, landlords as a group often need information about their Council Tax accounts on a more frequent basis, as tenants come and go and circumstances change.

CAV won’t tell you everything you need to know, but there’s a list of things it will allow you to do.

You can ….

See a summary of your Council Tax account and the balance outstanding

  • Check to see if a payment has been received
  • See if any discounts or benefit has been awarded
  • View correspondence already sent
  • Update your contact details
  • Request your bills by email.

In addition, if you have a tenant who claims either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction (which replaced the old Council Tax Benefit) they will be able to

  • Access a basic summary of their Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction claim.
  • Check to see if their benefit claim has been suspended.
  • Check the date and amount of their next Housing Benefit payment.

You can access CAV through the Council Tax pages on our website. You will need your ‘online’ key which is printed on the most recent notification for your Council Tax account. As a security feature, the key is changed, every time a new notification is issued, so do check for this on any letter or bill we send.

Online Key

The ONLINE KEY is printed on Council Tax notices or bills. It will change with each new notification.

Over time, we are hoping to make more and more of our service accessible online. There are already a number of forms that landlords, tenants or any Sandwell resident can use that are available on our website. The next time you need to contact the council, it might be an idea to check our website first, to see if what you need is already there. Please look out for future posts which will cover some of these aspects.

Oliver

 

Tenant leaving? Make sure the Council Tax is sorted.

Landlords face a long list of things needing attention when a tenant moves out; everything from the inventory, the deposit, to the utilities. Make sure though, that you don’t forget the Council Tax. If we have the right information about your property, we can get the bill right first time, saving you difficulties down the line. This is particularly important since empty property exemptions were abolished last year. Landlords become responsible for Council Tax as soon as a tenant leaves. However, if someone goes before the end date on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, without landlord agreement, the tenant may still be liable to pay until either:
• The original tenancy end date
• The landlord takes back possession of the property.
• A new tenant moves in.
If the tenant leaves on the end date, or leaves early with the landlord’s agreement, the landlord immediately becomes liable.

If someone stays after the agreement runs out without signing a new one, it ‘rolls over’ and becomes a Statutory Periodic Tenancy. Tenants need only give one month’s notice to end this; once the tenancy ends, the landlord is immediately liable to pay the tax.
Its best if both sides agree the end date in writing, so that we can make sure the right person gets billed for the right period. So, please make sure that you:
• Tell us about changes straight away
• If you are not sure about why you have been billed for a period, contact us immediately.
• Don’t rely on the tenant (or anyone else) to tell us.
• Keep proper written records

More information about Council Tax is available on our website at www.sandwell.gov.uk.

Oliver.