It's essential that you know whether you or the tenant is legally liable for rates in each of your properties. Where you are liable, the property can be repossessed if you do not pay your rates. If the tenant is liable and does not pay Land & Property Services (LPS) can take recovery action against the tenant, but there is no risk to you.
If you own more than one rental property, it may be easier for you to apply to LPS for an agent account. This will allow you to manage the rates on all your properties from one account and entitles you to a discount on your annual rates bill.
Paying rates when tenants are liable
If the tenants are liable for rates on a property, you can ask them to sort out payments directly with LPS. You should ensure that there is a clause in your tenancy agreement dealing with payment of rates and make sure that the tenants are aware that they are liable for rates.
If your tenants do not pay the rates bill on a property, LPS will take recovery action against the tenants. As you are not liable to for the rates payments, LPS cannot take action against you. If, however, your tenancy agreement states that you will pay the rates your tenants can sue you if they are penalised because you failed to pay these.
When a property is vacant, liability for rates will always rest with the owner.
Paying your rates bill
How you pay your rates bill depends on the type of account you have.
If you have an agent account, which allows you a discount on your total annual rates bill, you must pay your rates in a single payment by 30th September each year.
Rates on individual properties, which do not form part of a larger agent account, must usually be paid in full by the end of February of each year. If you do not have an agent account and pay each bill individually, you need to ensure that payments are kept up to date.
If you have two or more rental properties, it may be worth availing of the discounts that are available to landlords. Contact LPS if you'd like to know more about the discounts available to landlords.