A landlord is not liable to pay council tax if a fixed term tenancy ends early. The payment remains the responsibility of the tenant even if they are no longer resident.
That was the decision of the Court of Appeal in a case involving Leeds City Council.
The landlord in the case had granted assured shorthold residential tenancies on some of his properties. Under the terms of the agreements, the tenants were responsible for paying council tax “during the tenancy”.
The agreement stated that the premises were let for a term of 6 or 12 months “and thereafter continuing on a monthly basis” unless terminated by either party on one month’s notice.
When the tenants vacated the property, the local authority ceased to regard them as being liable for council tax on the basis that they were not an “owner” within the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
The judge accepted the landlord’s assertion that the tenants remained responsible, as the tenancy continued until it was terminated under the terms of the agreement. He held that the contracts created a single tenancy whose term was 6 or 12 months, thereafter continuing as a monthly tenancy.
The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision. It said the judge had been correct to find that the tenant’s liability continued while those tenancies subsisted as periodic tenancies even if the tenant had gone out of occupation.
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Landlord not liable for council tax if tenancy ends early  EWCA Civ 1213
LEEDS CITY COUNCIL v STEPHEN BROADLEY (2016)
CA (Civ Div) (McCombe LJ, Underhill LJ, Sir Stanley Burnton) 06/12/2016