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Rates rebate, when should a landlord refund a tenant?

Michelle called Landlord Advice as her tenant told her she was owed some money back after applying for a Rates Rebate. Michelle as landlord had paid her rates bill in full to avail of a discount. Michelle’s tenant was in receipt of Universal Credit and eligible to apply for help with her rates, this is  known as a Rates Rebate. 

How Landlord Advice helped

Our adviser explained if a tenant is eligible for Rates Rebate in the 12 weeks prior to claiming, the tenant’s award can be backdated for 3 months. This can mean, where a landlord has paid rates in full for this period, and a tenant has the amount paid on their behalf for the same period, the landlord will be refunded.

This raises a question of who is entitled to the refund. Our adviser explained that as Michelle had indicated in the tenancy agreement that rent was inclusive of rates, and as the tenant was not in arrears, the tenant had in fact paid the rates portion for the period the claim was being processed and backdated. When Land and Property Services refunded the amount to Michelle it was the amount paid for rates on the tenant’s behalf via the Rates Rebate award.

Michelle paid her tenant for the refunded amount and going forward her online rates account will automatically be credited for each month then eligible tenant remains living in the property and entitled to Rates Rebate. 

Our adviser outlined there is no legislation governing the way in which this amount is to be returned to the tenant and it is a matter of good practice for the landlord and the tenant to agree what suits best. Michelle agreed to write her tenant a cheque for the refunded amount and all future payments in respect of rent remain the same, with the rates portion now being paid on the tenant’s behalf through Rates Rebate. Going forward after the next rates assessment in April, Michelle’s landlord online rates account will automatically be credited for each month the eligible tenant remains living in the property and remains entitled to Rates Rebate.

 

If you are a registered Landlord in Northern Ireland and need advice, contact us on 028 902 45640 (option 1), or send an email.