Withholding rent

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    Withholding rent

    Hi

    I know this is a forum for landlords, and I'm a tenant, but a letter I've received has got me worried.

    I am living in a 5 bed house, renting 1 room. Technically it isn't a HMO at the moment, as only 2 rooms are rented. We have our own tenancies and locks on our bedroom doors.

    The other day, I received a letter from the council, stating I owe £2,300 in council tax! The landlord has not paid this for over 1 year, and is saying she isn't liable. I know in a HMO the landlord is liable, so I know when there were 3 of us, she would have to pay. It states in my contract that I rent a room, and all bills are included in the rent.

    I have to now pay the council £300 per month to pay the council tax off. My rent is £400. Would you say that I'm within my right to not pay the rent? I'm paying the council £400 (my full rent) to pay the balance off ASAP. I'm now worried that I'll get evicted due to not paying rent. If this went to court, do you think I'd have a case?

    To be honest, I want to move out, but I am not going to, as I would have a £2,000 debt over me, and I need to stay until this is resolved to stay in a stronger position (if I leave, she might wipe her hands of me, leave me with a £2,000 debt, and it would be me taking her to court).

    Any advice would be most appreciated.

    #2
    The HMO regulations are confusing, but if there is more than one person living in the property and the tenancy agreements are individual, you have an HMO for council tax purposes anyway.

    Tell the council about the arrangement and show them your tenancy agreement, so you won't owe the council tax at all.
    If at some point you were the only person living there, you might owe the tax for that period.

    The landlord is simply wrong that they're not liable.
    The definition of an HMO for council tax and for other purposes is different.

    If a third person not connected with the two current tenants moves in, you have an HMO, even if it doesn't require a licence.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

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      #3
      It's very rarely a good idea to stop paying rent. I suggest you email or post your landlord a copy of https://landlords.org.uk/news-campai...ws/council-tax and tell them they should pay back anything you have paid to date as liability for the tax is with them. Expect them to either move in other tenants, increase your rent at the first opportunity, seek to evict you to move a single family in or any combination or those. Also contact the council, dispute liability and tell them you'll stop paying unless they prove you are liable.

      When did you move in and how long have just 2 rooms been let? Are the unlet rooms locked? What is the market rent for a single room in your area (£400 sounds cheap) and does your contract specify what is meant by bills are included? What deposit does the landlord hold from you and are you sure it has been protected?

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