Liability of Others
The basic principle is that rates are paid by the occupier of property. There are a number of supplemental rules, but this remains the basic position.
Where a rate has been levied in respect of a rateable property in any local financial year and the liable person to whom a rates bill has been given under this section ceases to be the owner or occupier, as the case may be, of the rateable property before the end of that year and has not paid the rate so levied, such owner or occupier shall be liable to pay that portion of the rate levied in respect of the period during which he or she remained the owner or occupier and the remaining portion of the rate shall be levied on any subsequent liable persons on a pro-rata basis.
Rates may be levied on a subsequent occupier or owner. Formerly, the levy may be made within two years next after the making and publishing of the rates. These provisions were replaced by the 2014 Act and by the 2019 Act
2014 Act Obligations
The Local Government Act 2014 provides a statutory obligation to discharge arrears of rates in the case of certain sales and leases of commercial property after 1st July, 2014. Prior to 1st July, 2014, subsequent occupier of commercial property could be held liable for up to two years of arrears rate.
The seller has a statutory obligation to notify the rating authority that the sale has taken place. The seller is obliged to disclose all arrears for which he is liable. This can be for up to 12 years.
The obligations apply where there is a change in the rated occupier. Accordingly, a landlord is obliged to notify the rating authority where a new lease is granted. A landlord is obliged to notify the rating authority when his existing tenant transfers its interest. The notification must be made within two weeks of the change of occupier. A prescribed form of return is required to be used.
The owner is liable for a charge equal to up to two years of outstanding rates due, where the rating authority has not been notified as above. This may make the landlord liable for the tenant’s arrears on assignment or cessation of occupation. The charge affects the property and remain a charge on it for a further period of 12 years.
Landlord and Tenant
The effect of the legislation is that the landlord must notify when there is a change in the identity of the tenant or occupier or where a property that was tenanted or occupied becomes vacant. Where the owner sells the property, the owner must discharge rates for which he is liable. Liability for rates applies to the occupier.
If owner sells the property subject to an existing tenancy, there is no obligation to notify the local authority. This is because there is no change in occupation. The obligation arises where a vacant property becomes tenanted, as there is a change in the relevant occupier. Accordingly, the obligation applies to the grant of a lease.
The form of notice is prescribed. The return may be made by the owner or person authorised in writing, on his behalf. It requires details of the incoming and outgoing occupiers and other prescribed information.
The charge that arise by reason of failure to make the return, is not affected by the subsequent payment of the outstanding rates. The charges applies in respect of up to two years of rates for which the person is liable.
2019 Act Obligations
There is an obligation on the owners and occupiers of relevant properties to provide, to the local authorities, information that the authorities may require to discharge their functions under the legislation.
Where rateable property, or an interest in rateable property, is transferred from one person to another person in circumstances that render that other person liable for rates on the property so transferred, then—
- it shall be the duty of the owner of the property (being the owner of the property prior to transfer) or such other person as the owner has authorised in writing to act on his or her behalf to notify, in writing, the rating authority in whose functional area the property is situated of the transfer not later than 2 weeks after the date of the transfer, and
- it shall be the duty of the person transferring the property being either the occupier or the owner, to discharge all rates for which he or she is liable for at the date of the transfer of the property or of an interest in it.
The owner of rateable property shall be liable for a charge equivalent to no more than 2 years of the outstanding rates due from the previous occupier or occupiers where the owner has not notified the rating authority in writing of a transfer of rateable property or an interest in rateable property and the above requirements have not been met.
There are obligations on the owners of a rateable property, before the sale of that property, to pay any rates payable by the owner to the local authority, including any interest on unpaid rates.
Duties on transfer 2019 Act
The owner of a rateable property who proposes to sell the property shall, before the completion of the sale, pay to the local authority concerned any rates imposed under this Act and accrued interest which is due and payable in respect of that property.
The local authority concerned shall provide the person or a person acting on his or her behalf in connection with a sale of a relevant property with—
- confirmation of any unpaid rates imposed under this Act and accrued interest at the date of the sale of a relevant property, or
- confirmation that there are no outstanding amounts payable,
as the case may be, in such form and manner as may be prescribed.
A “sale” includes
- the transfer of the property by its owner or any trustee or personal representative
- compulsorily acquisition
- a gift for no consideration or consideration which is significantly less than the market value of the property at the time of its transfer.
Charge of Property 2019 Act
Any unpaid rates and any interest accruing on unpaid rates shall be and remain a charge on the rateable property where the owner of the property is the person liable for the rates.
Any rates levied by a rating authority in respect of a rateable property payable and any interest which is due and unpaid by the owner of the relevant property shall be and remain a charge on the relevant property to which it relates.The charge shall continue to apply without a time limit until such time as it is paid in full.
This does not affect—
- the liability of any previous occupier for outstanding rates in respect of which he or she is primarily liable, or
- the functions of the rating authority concerned under any other enactment to collect any outstanding rates from the occupier or occupiers primarily liable.
The general position is that the rated occupier on the relevant day the rates becomes due is liable for the whole rate. This is so notwithstanding that it may be payable in two half-year installments.
The Poor Law Ireland Amendment Act 1890 provides that if the owner or occupier who has not paid the rate in respect of which he is liable, vacates before the year end, the rating authority can determine that the occupier should pay only a portion of the rates, based on the period during which he was in occupation.
If another occupier takes up occupation after that date, the rating authority can determine that the incoming occupier should pay a proportionate part, relative to their period of occupation. These provision require that the rating authority uses its power to a apportion.