Non-Resident Tenant – I let my property for 6 months on an AST but my tenant has not entered the property. The tenant is paying rent but how do I stand with my tenant, Council Tax, utilities bills and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?
Where a tenant does not take up residence the tenancy is NOT an AST because this is not now the tenant’s main residence – it’s a common law tenancy.
Therefore the Tenancy Deposit Scheme does not apply – you can hold the deposit as landlord or agent.
The utilities and Council Tax liabilities will depend upon the wording of your agreement.
Your tenant is still committed to the term unless you agree to release him from the contract.
Where it is clear in your agreement that the tenant is responsible for Council Tax and utilities, then the tenant will be liable, even if the landlord has been billed in the first instance. The landlord will be liable to pay, but can collect from his absent tenant.
With Council Tax, there could be a tax free period of up to 6 months where the property is unfurnished.
With regards to Council Tax payment, the Local Government Finance Act 1992 – Ch1 P6 – applies
There are some circumstances where the landlord may be liable for Council Tax in the first instance – non resident tenant or less than 6 months letting.
However, this does not mean that the landlord cannot re-claim Council Tax he paid from the tenant:
1 by building a CT element into the rent
2 by a straightforward demand for payment where the agreement states that the Council Tax is payable by the tenant.
So the key point is having this clearly set-out as a clasue in your agreement – the tenant is responsible for Council Tax.
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