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Forum Spotlight: Can I check my tenant is paying his bills?

A landlord recently posted on our forum inquiring as to whether he could check his tenant is up to date with paying his bills and council tax for a property he is renting.

Our forum users were quick to respond to the member, with some raising concerns over data protection.

Another forum poster suggested looking at the issue from another angle, asking tenants for proof of payment of council tax (and all bills) before renewing or extending their contract.

They added there are some circumstances in which the landlord can be held liable for council tax after the tenant leaves, but the landlord is not liable for the council tax while the tenant remains in the property or the AST is in force.

Response from Landlord Advice Team
An advisor from our Landlord Advice Team then joined the conversation and began by saying that if the landlord is not liable for a tenants’ financial obligations, then they do not have the right to this information.

While our adviser empathised with this member for wanting reassurance that the tenant is indeed keeping up with things like paying their bills, they said that this sort of information is not something that landlords can access.

The adviser then suggested that the landlord checked with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) for further details about data and data controllers, to learn more about this issue.

They also suggested that the landlord should safeguard themselves by notifying utility companies, council tax etc. every time that they rent out a property, and hand over the details of the occupants.

It is especially important to do this for water bills that are incurred by tenants. After a legislation change occurred in November 2012, this now means that property owners can be made to pay up in situations where tenants fail to do so.

Written by Victoria Barker

Blog Post from Residential Landlords Association

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