Council Tax Owed By Former Tennant

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  • Council Tax Owed By Former Tennant

    We rented a property a couple of years ago to a lady who left owing council tax. The bailiffs arrived looking for her so I gave them as much information as I could as to her whereabouts . A few years on we have received a bill for the council tax as they have obviously not found her or she as refused to pay . When I phoned the council they asked us to produce a tenancy agreement but it was that long ago I haven't a clue where it is , its more than likely I chucked it. Do we have to pay or is there an appeals procedure ? Many thanks for any replies .

  • #2
    There is a defined set of rules for who is responsible for council tax and you will be responsible if you can't show that a tenant was actually responsible. You need to be able to prove that the tenant was resident in the property while the tax was due (and that they were the only tenant or on a joint tenancy agreement) or that they were in a fixed term tenancy of 6 months or more.

    There is an appeals procedure, but they will want the same proof.

    You should keep your business records for 6 years - during that time any number of issues could arise.
    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).


    • #3
      does the production of a tenancy agreement actually serve as proof that the T was resident? Could they not at the same time be living (and registered for CT) elsewhere, strange as it may seem?


      • #4
        The rules for council tax are that the tax is paid by the resident or someone with a minimums six month interest in the property.
        There are other rules obviously, but these are the relevant ones.

        So a tenancy agreement is sufficient on its own for the fixed term; otherwise you have to be able to show that they were more likely than not in residence (which puts the onus of proof back on the tenant, in theory).
        In reality, the council are going to do everything in their power to get the funds from the landlord - who will have to try quite hard to get the council off their back.
        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).


        • #5
          The only reason the council would be asking for a tenancy agreement is a) to get a copy for their records or b) they're double checking the liability is correct. There's nothing to stop a local authority retrospectively from altering their records if they find that they are wrong to make you liable but until they do so then the tenant would remain liable for the payments.

          The local authority can issue a request to you for the information needed to determine liability if they need it. It's not often that they do but a penalty can be applied for not replying or providing it.

          The determination of liability is down to the council however they should make it fully in line with legislation.Ultimately, if there's a dispute over liability and who should be liable it's a case of a valuation tribunal. Try googling 'council tax liability determination' or similar and you should find some sites which will give more information.
          Previously served 10 years as a council tax advisor with a local authority but now self-employed with my own council tax consultancy.

          If your local authority disagrees with any aspects of your council tax claim, as they are free to do so, a Valuation Tribunal appeal may be required.


          • #6
            NEVER chuck tenancy paperwork , certainly not for at least 7 years. (CGT, IHT, HMRC, insurance etc etc etc..)

            What other evidence (emails, letters, bills, regular bank transfers of rent .....) do you have that she was in residence? Give copies to council.

            (& tell them that no written tenancy is needed for a tenancy of less than 3 years anyway..)
            I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


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