Rates are a property tax. The money raised in rates helps to pay for all types of public services. Land & Property Services (LPS) is the agency responsible for collecting rates. Either the tenant or the landlord may have to pay rates in rented properties.
Rates for private landlords
Either you or your tenant will be responsible for paying rates. Who pays the rates depends on
- what your tenancy agreement says, and
- what the law says.
What does the law say about liability for rates?
The law says that the tenant is usually responsible for paying rates for a privately rented home. But, if the rates bill has not been paid, the landlord is the responsible person if
- the capital value of the property is £150,000 or less, or
- the property is a House in Multiple Occupation, (shared housing).
Finding the property's capital value
The capital value is not the same as the market value of the property.
You can find the capital value of the property by searching the Department of Finance website.
Tenancy agreements and rates
Your tenancy agreement may have a term about rates. It could say that
- rates are included in the rent that you charge the tenant, or
- rates are a separate charge that the tenant must pay in addition to the rent, or
- you, the landlord will pay the rates directly to LPS.
Failure to pay the rates bill
LPS will contact people who have not paid their rates. They can take a person to court over this debt, and can even make a person bankrupt if the debt is more than £5,000.
LPS will contact the person who is legally liable for rates. This means
- the tenant, if the property's capital value if £150,001 or more
- you, the landlord if the property's capital value is £150,000 or less, or if the property is a HMO.
Help to pay rates
Tenants can get help to pay rates. They can get this help from
- Housing Benefit if they are already claiming Housing Benefit or are over pension age
- Rates Rebate if they are claiming Universal Credit.
Your agent can verify the Housing Benefit claim, but you will need to be involved in a claim for rates rebate. The tenant can only get this help if you approve their claim using LPS's online system.
The landlord is responsible for paying rates for any period when there is no tenant living there.
You have to pay rates on empty properties, but there are some exceptions to this rule. You have to show how you meet the exceptions and confirm that the property is vacant. This means,
- there is no-one living there
- the property is not used for storage
- the property is unfurnished.
Landlords' rates discount
Landlords can get a 10% discount on their annual rates bill.
You can get this discount if you pay the rates bill for all your properties by 30 September.
You will need to sign up to a voluntary agreement if you want to get this discount but some of your properties have a capital value of more than £150,000.