What is the channel or method by which landlords communicate of a new tenants residence in a property to a council? And are they required to do this?

Bonus points for the same thing but about utilities.

  • Seems to vary by council google.com/search?q=landlord+inform+council+new+tenant Jul 11, 2022 at 16:07
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    Why would they do so at all?
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 11, 2022 at 17:49
  • Good question, fundamentally speaking, as it is essentially a bilateral matter between the tenant and the LL. Yet Perhaps so that they (the councils) have a leg up on establishing liability for council tax, and the landlord may like to do so because if I recall correctly I think that in some (many?) Cases the LL would be liable for paying it on properties that sit empty. So they would have an incentive to do it in order to indicate to the local authorise the shunting of CT liability with the commencement of the lease. Jul 11, 2022 at 21:27
  • Which raises the most interesting aspect of the question, of whether or not the LL actually has any duty of obligation to inform the consul. Jul 11, 2022 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


There's mostly no legal requirement*, because the landlord can - if he wishes - pay the tenants' council tax and utility bills himself. This is common for HMOs (houses in multiple occupancy) - principally for logistical reasons, as there's often no fair way to measure utility usage per person in an HMO, and council tax is applied to the whole property, not to individual occupants - and so the rent may reflect that these bills are paid for by the landlord.

The risk to the landlord is that if the tenants use a lot of electricity, gas or water (if metered), or if utility prices rise, it's the landlord who takes the hit in the short term - until he can raise rents to compensate (which generally he can only do once a year).

Hence for non-HMOs, there is a financial benefit to the landlord for the tenants to be responsible for these bills, and it's logistically simple since, unlike an HMO, the tenants form a single household, and can decide for themselves how to split their bills.

In terms of notification: the outgoing tenants should contact the council and utility companies to tell them the date of the end of tenancy; for the latter, that will also include the final meter readings. (If the tenants don't do this, then the landlord should.) The council and utilities will then send letters to the property, addressed to the tenants (or "The Occupants" if the landlord hasn't passed on the new tenants' names), and it's then the tenants' responsibility to open accounts with the council/utilities, set up direct debits, etc.

Note that if there is a gap between the end of the old tenancy and the start of the new one, the landlord is responsible for all bills in that period, and for keeping the council/utilities informed.

Relevant links from Shelter England on bills, and on moving out.

(* If any council tax discounts are claimed by tenants, then it might be necessary for the council to have all relevant information about occupants - though this question appears to suggest that there may be a loophole in some cases.)

  • When would that loophole ever become relevant? I mean, when would there be ambiguity in the council's knowledge as to whether someone actually lives there or not? Presumably the landlord not wanting to pay CT would notify the LA in which case wouldn't they know who lives there or that someone lives there without the occupant needing to notify them or declare their occupancy? Jul 12, 2022 at 10:14
  • @JosephP.: this is getting a bit theoretical, but it may depend on what the landlord says. If he (or the previous tenants) merely tells the council that the old tenants have moved out, and leaves it to the new tenants to wait for the letter to "The Occupants", the tenants could (for example) declare that only one person lived there instead of two, in order to qualify for the single person occupant. Notwithstanding the result of the court case in the linked question, this is not recommended. And note that you can't (legally) vote if the council don't know where you live. Jul 12, 2022 at 12:19
  • But the LL has an incentive to let LA know that it is no longer empty. If property is empty then LL is liable for CT, are they not? Jul 12, 2022 at 15:42
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    @JosephP.: yes. Jul 12, 2022 at 15:48

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