What are the main points of the new legislation?
In summary, Section 32 provides:
- the owner/seller of a rateable property with a duty to notify the local authority, within 2 weeks, once the person liable for rate changes
- penalties for non-compliance with this duty
- a duty on owner/seller and occupier to discharge all unpaid rates, for which he/she is liable, prior to transfer/assignment;
- that unpaid rates and penalties under this section due from an owner/seller become a charge on the property
Please see the following questions for more detailed guidance on the requirements of the above legislation
What are the obligations on owners under section 32 of the Act?
(i) An owner is required to notify Cork County Council where there is a change in the person ordinarily liable for rates on his or her property, i.e. where there is a change in ownership, change in tenancy/occupier or where a tenant/occupier vacates and is not replaced immediately.
(ii) Where the owner is selling the property, it is his/her duty to discharge all rates for which he or she is liable at the date of transfer of the property.
What are the new obligations on tenants/occupiers under section 32 of the Act?
Outgoing tenants/occupiers are required to discharge all rates for which they may be liable prior to or on the date of the transfer of the property/ vacating the premises.
In what circumstances does the obligation to notify Cork County Council arise?
Where a property is being transferred from one person to another that would result in a change in the person liable for rates, i.e. a change in ownership; or a change in tenancy or occupier, including where a tenant/occupier leaves and the property becomes vacant.
Does an obligation to notify arise if the property is sold and there is no change in tenancy/occupier?
No, if the ownership of a property transfers from one person to another without there being a change of tenant or occupier then there is no need to notify Cork County Council.
Does an obligation to notify arise if the tenant/occupier leaves and the property becomes vacant?
Yes, the owner is required to notify Cork County Council of this change as the outgoing tenant/occupier will no longer be liable for rates on the property. Cork County Council must be informed of the new tenant/occupier, if any, as that new tenant/occupier will become liable for rates after the date of transfer.
Does an obligation to notify arise if a vacant property becomes occupied (i.e. leased/rented)?
Yes, the owner of the property is required to notify the local authority as the incoming occupier/ tenant will now become liable for rates on that property for his/her period of occupation.
When/at what point in time does the owner’s duty to notify Cork County Council arise?
Section 32 requires that the owner notifies Cork County Council not later than two weeks after the date of the transfer. Ownership transfers when the sale is complete. In the case of the transfer of tenancies and other interests, this is ordinarily determined on a date specified on the lease/contract.
How does the owner fulfil his/her obligation? What information is the owner required to provide Cork County Council?
Owners are required to notify Cork County Council of the details of the transfer and the details of the outgoing and incoming occupier. The relevant form is available to download here.
Must the owner notify Cork County Council of a transfer of property or can a solicitor notify on an owner’s behalf?
Subsection 2(a) of Section 32 provides that the notification can be given by either the owner/seller or such other person authorised in writing by the owner/seller to act on his behalf.
What happens if Cork County Council is not notified of a transfer?
If the owner does not notify, in writing, Cork County Council of a transfer or the transfer of interest in a property within 2 weeks of the date of transfer, they may be subject to a penalty charge equivalent to the rates outstanding from the previous occupier up to a maximum of 2 years’ rates liabilities. Any such charge not discharged by an owner will remain a charge on the property.
What happens if the owner does not pay any outstanding rates he/she is liable for on the date of transfer?
Any rates due by the owner of property at the date of transfer and not discharged will remain a charge on the property.
At what point is the penalty of the equivalent charge determined?
Cork County Council must be notified no later than 2 weeks after the date of transfer therefore, the penalty charge accrues after the expiration of the 14 days, i.e. on the 15th day after the transfer.
If it comes to the attention of Cork County Council after the fifteenth day that the owner has not fulfilled his/her obligation, the penalty charge will be applied.
Does subsequent payment of the outstanding rates, after the levying of the penalty charge, affect the penalty charge?
No, the penalty charge is not affected by the subsequent payment of the outstanding rates and it remains payable even after outstanding rates have been paid.
Does the penalty also apply in instances where the owner was the previous occupier?
Yes, the owner, regardless of whether he/she is in occupation, must notify Cork County Council of the transfer of ownership or if a tenant or new occupier is coming in to replace him as occupant. If the owner does not notify Cork County Council and does not discharge outstanding rates due, he/she will be liable for the penalty charge in addition to any other rates liability that arises from his/her previous occupation. Both the unpaid rates due from an owner on transfer and the penalty charge shall remain a charge on the property if not paid.
Do previous occupier’s arrears become a charge on the property?
No, the liability for unpaid rates of a previous occupier does not become a charge on the property unless that occupier is also the owner of the property.
Disclaimer: The Information provided above is for guidance purposes only, and is not intended as a definitive legal interpretation of the relevant governing legislation.