Legislative Update: Landlords and Banks May Not Become Guarantors for Rates
16 September 2019
We previously wrote about the Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019 (the “Act”). In particular, we noted that:
- if the Act was commenced without amendment, it would effectively make landlords and lenders liable for rates which had not been paid by occupiers; and
- there was a level of lobbying underway to seek amendments to the Act.
It would appear that the lobbying has had some effect and we understand that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (the “Minister”) has acknowledged that the Act has not been drafted correctly, could result in unintended consequences and intends to amend the Act before it is commenced.
Key provisions of the Act
The Act, amongst other things:
- imposes liabilities on landlords and banks for the failure of occupiers to pay rates;
- provides for unpaid rates to be a charge on the property;
- provides the local authority with a right of set off;
- provides for minimum rates on unoccupied properties; and
- provides for the payment of interest on overdue rates.
The Act also re-enacts a number of provisions of section 32 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014, which remain untested and potentially problematic.
For details of how these provisions would operate, if implemented as drafted, please see our previous article.
As almost all residential property is not subject to local authority rates, this will have little impact on the residential sector.
Our understanding is that the Minister intends to amend the provision of the Act that imposes liabilities on landlords and banks for the failure of occupiers to pay rates. We are not aware of the level of analysis that has been carried out in relation to the other potentially problematic provisions of the Act or whether the Minister intends to amend any of those provisions.
Given that the Oireachtas will have to consider any proposed amendments, it may engage more deeply than it did when passing the Act. Accordingly, there may now be scope for lenders and landlords to lobby, highlighting any potential unintended consequences the legislation will have for stakeholders.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.
 All references to property below are to property on which rates are payable.
 For instance: the definition of “Owner” - which appears to include higher level landlords; the duty of owners to notify changes of occupation, even where they are not notified of same; and the fact that where an owner pays rates due by an occupier, the owner does not appear to have a subrogated claim against the occupier as the Act provides that such payment does not affect the liability of the occupier in respect of rates for which he is primarily liable.