Commercial landlords could be left with liabilities for tenants’ business rates even after a lease has expired, an expert has warned.
Chris Addison, a legal assistant specialising in commercial property litigation at regional law firm Napthens, warns this could also be the case if a tenant absconds and the landlord takes back possession of a property.
For instance, councils will often pursue the easiest target to collect business rates – often the landlord as they are easy to trace and may have the funds to satisfy a demand from a local authority.
He warned that even if a landlord believes the rates are not their responsibility they should not avoid the issue. He said: “If the liability for business rates is transferred into a landlord’s name – without their permission – the council will send demands for payment followed by a final reminder. They may then apply to the magistrates’ court to issue a summons for you to appear. It is vital evidence is presented at that hearing to avoid a liability order being made.”
Enforcement options included attachment of earnings orders, removing goods to sell, statutory demands or prison.