Council Tax Con – are they trying it on?

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    Council Tax Con – are they trying it on?

    The cheek of the local Council never ceases to amaze me.

    I have a two bedroomed property, same tenant/tenants for best part of 12 years.

    From day one John (made up name) and girlfriend signed the usual AST. John being in regular work always paid the rent on time or thereabouts. Knowing his ‘casual’ approach to life, I thought I was doing him and the Local Authority a favour by including the Council Tax in the rent and paying it myself, knowing how overzealous they can be.

    When girlfriend left, his mate moved into second bedroom and all was fine.

    Over the years there have been changes of personnel, save for John, numbering from 2 to 4 and I have never changed the tenancy. Rent has always been paid, and tenants have always been employed, as well as polite and tidy and not caused any issues with the neighbours, so why complain?

    John is a bit of a hippie at heart, a very nice hippie at that, and has never registered to vote and I always respected the wish of he and his chums to remain off the radar as far as the Local Authority are concerned. Nothing sinister; I knew of his parents and his employer, and if he and his crew don’t want to vote that's fine by me.

    Criticise me for being a little casual but if it works it works.

    That was the case until recently. John meets girl, and John likes girl and off they go to, trekking to her native New Zealand, giving me plenty of notice, flat vacated by all, and we part as friends.

    Being a responsible landlord, I took it upon myself to gut the place and a major decorate and refit which is happening at my own pace.

    Then completely unannounced comes the letter from Hades. Apparently, the property has been empty for more than 2 years and Shylock is demanding Council Tax TIMES TWO from now on.

    My questions are –

    How do I prove that the property has not been empty for so long, and is it for me to prove?

    Whilst the property is uninhabitable, and it is at present, can they demand any Council Tax, never mind DOUBLE? They are a law unto themselves – imagine a nasty Landlord doubling the rent???

    #2
    The council can demand council tax as long as its in line with its own policies.
    Double for an empty property is something a number of local authorities do.

    You might be penalised for not updating the council when you let the property, because the liability to pay council tax is set by legislation, you don't get to decide who should pay it.
    But the tenancy agreements should show it wasn't empty.
    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).

    Comment


      #3
      Yes pretty common, best bet is notify them that you moved in yourself on XXX date and will now have 25% single person discount please.

      Comment


        #4
        So you paid the council tax all this time? Strange they are after you unless someone told them the property is empty. Doubt they have any proof it was empty.

        Comment


          #5
          The utilities were presumably in the tenants name until the date they left and would provide some evidence along with correspondence about the tenant leaving.

          Comment


            #6
            Since the Tories have been massively reducing funding to councils, without taking away their responsibilities, they've been forced to find new income.

            The cheek is from Bozo and his chums, not councils.
            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...

            Comment


              #7
              Thank so far

              jpkeates

              Own policies? - sounds like a dictatorship
              Sorry I didn’t make it clear but the relevant AST was circa 2008, and I had paid continuously throughout – liability covered, AND ALL HAPPY, or so I thought – agreement doesn’t include a termination date (I could make one up but dont think that is correct?) surely it is ok for me to pay and factor it into the rent?
              Any comment on below would be much appreciated?

              Section20z
              Sounds like a good idea – could wife and I both claim discount – home and away – although I am a little uncomfortable with the idea it does have its merits.
              What length of time per year would be reasonable (legal) to qualify for occupancy?

              Cuttingman
              Am I too trusting, but I dont think anyone has grassed, but what proof (evidence for court) do they have to have?

              DPT57
              Unfortunately, no gas supply and electric by key meter. (i’m not telling tales, but I dont think they ever had a TV licence)

              theartfullodger
              Were councils ever moral, under any regime?

              Comment


                #8
                Did you do any history?
                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...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by timothytaylor View Post
                  Section20z
                  Sounds like a good idea – could wife and I both claim discount – home and away – although I am a little uncomfortable with the idea it does have its merits.
                  What length of time per year would be reasonable (legal) to qualify for occupancy?
                  Quite reasonable for you to move in while you are making it habitable and your wife would then qualify for single occupancy too. There is no minimum or maximum period that I'm aware of

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by timothytaylor View Post
                    ....Were councils ever moral, under any regime?.....
                    Just two examples, Chamberlain at Birmingham Council & LCC housing reform.

                    But of course, there is failure, as Private Eye's "Rotten Boroughs" reminds us every fortnight
                    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...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by timothytaylor View Post
                      Own policies? - sounds like a dictatorship

                      Sorry I didn’t make it clear but the relevant AST was circa 2008, and I had paid continuously throughout – liability covered, AND ALL HAPPY, or so I thought – agreement doesn’t include a termination date (I could make one up but dont think that is correct?) surely it is ok for me to pay and factor it into the rent?
                      The local policies are allowed within parameters set by legislation.
                      Some councils don't offer single occupancy discount and some do.

                      The council won't really care who pays over the money, but the occupants of the property on a joint tenancy are liable to pay it - and could, in an extreme case, go to prison if you didn't pay it.
                      And your tenancy agreement can't change that.

                      If each tenant was on their own agreement, you would be liable.

                      In theory, if you claim that the property was occupied by tenants, the council should refund six years of council tax to you and pursue the tenants for it - but I suspect that they won't want to do that.
                      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).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by timothytaylor View Post
                        Thank so far
                        Own policies? - sounds like a dictatorship

                        ...
                        Sounds like a good idea – could wife and I both claim discount – home and away – although I am a little uncomfortable with the idea it does have its merits.
                        What length of time per year would be reasonable (legal) to qualify for occupancy?

                        The (elected) council can choose their own policies within the range given to them by the (elected) government - that sounds like democracy to me.

                        You are talking about comitting fraud - you should declare the address where you actually live.

                        You connived with your tenant to break the law (by not properly registering at the address), it shouldn't be too surprising that there are sometimes negative consequences of that.
                        Did you also happen to pay the single person rate for Council Tax?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          well folks – I am older and wiser
                          Let me be clear – I trusted the tenants to pay their rent, which they did. They trusted me to pay the Council Tax for the two bedroomed flat, which I did - no single occupancy discount ever applied for.
                          Seemed fair to me then. Seems fair to all parties now.
                          Without consultation, I am suddenly told that the flat has been empty for two years (which it hasn’t) and now Council Tax will double??????
                          I am getting the idea that I am best to challenge the two years first – which I have am in the process of.
                          Having little faith in our Council, the idea of moving in briefly (how briefly?) does have merit.
                          Essentially what I need to know, is what EVIDENCE must the Authority provide to claim un-occupancy and what EVIDENCE is reasonable for me to state my case and counter their arguement.

                          Section20z
                          There is no minimum or maximum period that I'm aware of”
                          Encouraging – does anyone else have any similar experience or understanding? i.e. If I moved in for a week then the two year occupancy clock is reset to zero? Would a day suffice, or a month?

                          Jpkeates
                          The local policies are allowed within parameters set by legislation. Some councils don't offer single occupancy discount and some do.”
                          Do you have 'legislation' that I can quote to support my case, or at least direct me towards some?

                          Ted.E.Bear
                          I hope the above clears any suggestion of fraud.
                          Before considering EVIDENCE for and against the unjustified doubling of council tax any clues r.e.
                          The (elected) council can choose their own policies within the range given to them by the (elected) government” would be gratefully appreciated

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by timothytaylor View Post
                            well folks – I am older and wiser
                            I hope the above clears any suggestion of fraud.
                            Before considering EVIDENCE for and against the unjustified doubling of council tax any clues r.e.
                            The (elected) council can choose their own policies within the range given to them by the (elected) government” would be gratefully appreciated
                            No - you have suggested pretending to move in for a day in order to try and avoid the tax; that's pretty transparent.

                            Local Government Finance Act 1992 (particularly as amended by the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018).

                            Obviously, the property wasn't empty - but to convince them of that you may have to admit to committing an offence regarding the incorrect registration. They may not be interested in following it up, but it could complicate things.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Ted.E.Bear,

                              Which of those laws says the landlord can't pay the council tax ?
                              Quite normal practice , especially for HMOs.
                              And if the tenants fail to register for the electoral role that's nothing to do with the landlord.

                              Comment

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