Landlords with empty properties could be missing out on claiming a 100% reduction in their council tax.
Although rules allowing local authorities to charge the full rate of council tax on an unfurnished property from the day it became vacant were introduced at the start of the 2013/14 tax year, not every council in England withdrew the previous 100% discount for the first six months and 50% after that.
And other local authorities have changed the amount of time they offer council tax reductions for empty properties. In the Lancashire town of Burnley, for example, the local authority now offers a 25% council tax discount for up to 12 months on properties that are unoccupied, while a 100% discount is available for the first two months a residential property is unoccupied and unfurnished.
It is, therefore, highly advisable that you check with your local authority to see whether it offers any council tax discounts on empty properties.
Whether the council controlling the area of the UK that your buy-to-let investment is located in offers discounts on empty properties or not, landlords still need to inform it when their tenants leave the property and new occupiers move in.
Council tax and HMOs
If you are a landlord of a property classed as an HMO, please be aware that many local authorities will hold you responsible for paying the council tax. It is, therefore, wise to establish your town hall’s policy on council tax and HMOs.
This Letter to Local Authority re: Council Tax will help to ensure that up to date bills are sent to the person or people responsible for paying the council tax and removes any source of dispute between a landlord and tenant.
When contacting your local authority about who is responsible for paying the council tax charged on a rental property, please bear in mind that some councils insist landlords also send in copies of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement and inform them whether the tenant is a student or in receipt of benefits.
It is, therefore, advisable to check what information your local authority requires before contacting its Council Tax department.
As with council tax, landlords also need to inform gas, electricity and water suppliers when new occupiers move into a rental property.
To make best use of the Letter to Utility Companies, it is advisable to print off a copy for each utility supplier and also include the account number and current meter readings, which should be agreed with the tenants to avoid any future disputes.
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