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Landlord wins Court Battle over Council Tax

A landlord has won an important court case against Leeds City Council, which could have implications for other landlords. Leeds City Council took the landlord to court in an attempt to make him pay council tax on five empty properties he owned, despite the fact the tenancy agreements had not been formally ended by either party.

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The landlord defended himself and won two further appeals.

Tenants often leave a property early, without giving notice of their intention to depart before the end of a tenancy agreement. By law, tenants are supposed to give their landlord a month’s notice on a monthly tenancy, but if they have fallen behind on the rent, they sometimes decide to leave in a hurry.

Council Chases Landlord

Often, the first a landlord knows that the tenant has disappeared is when the local authority comes looking for the council tax, after exhausting all other possibilities. A tenant with a fixed term assured short-hold tenancy for at least six months is liable for the council tax even if they leave early. If the tenant has lived in the property for less than six months, they are not liable if they leave early. This distinction formed the heart of the above court case.

Council Loses Two Appeals

The landlord in this instance had written the tenancy agreement so that it continued as a statutory periodic tenancy once the fixed term ended. The council argued that the tenancy should be treated as a fresh one at the end of the fixed term, but the appeal court disagreed and found in the landlord’s favour.


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