Lawbite: landlord liable for business rates after lease disclaimed

Many local authorities have been in the habit of looking to landlords for payment of business rates after disclaimer of a lease by an insolvent tenant; and many landlords have accepted liability. Until now, though, the courts have not ruled upon whether or not a landlord is liable in these circumstances.

The question is whether the landlord, following disclaimer, is ‘entitled to possession’ of the property; under section 65(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, it is the person ‘entitled to possession’ who is liable for the rates.

In Schroder Exempt Property Unit Trust v Birmingham City Council [2014] EWHC 2207 (Admin), the tenant went into liquidation and ceased to occupy the property, and the liquidator then disclaimed all interest in the lease…

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