Council tax for student occupied flat - hypothetical question

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  • Council tax for student occupied flat - hypothetical question

    Hypothetically ......

    I have a son who is at university, and as a student does not pay council tax in the shared property that he rents (1 year lease). I also have a rental flat near my home, in a borough which does not give a full exemption from council tax during unoccupied periods (3 months at 50% max).

    So, if during the summer (or other) holiday period my son comes home from university and stays in the empty rental property insted of my house, is the council tax is no-longer payable for the time that he is living in the flat ? Or is this not possible as he would than have 2 properties that he would be claiming council tax exemption against ?

    Given the amount of time my son does not have to attend lectures - (e.g. he 'finishes' tomorrow until late September !!) this could save me several hundred pounds if my rental property happens to be vacant at the right time.

    Views ?


  • #2
    If you have standard landlord's insurance or a BTL mortgage, you will probably find that they wouldn't allow your son to live in the property.

    If they are living there temporarily, the owner of the property is still liable for the council tax.
    There isn't a definition of "temporary" that seems definitive either way.

    The person living in the property has to have a contractual right to be there to be the person liable for council tax, which might be more complicated than it's worth.
    Surely it would be more cost effective to rent it to a tenant who would pay the council tax and, you, rent?
    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
      And you can't get exemption on two properties anyway.


      • #4
        Why are you not renting the place out? The council tax is minor compared to lost rent, utility costs, increased insurance fees (you've told insurers??) etc etc etc..

        When you describe your property having "unoccupied periods) is it a student let - if so why not make the tenancy for the full 12 months, but at lower monthly rent (same annual cost to occupants)?? It's what my agent does, works out.. and very much suits tenants who wish to carry on to the next year. Or is a room-only HMO?

        (PS Yes, I have an unoccupied property myself at the moment...)
        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...


        • #5
          jpkeates - the aim is to rent it out and generate an income of course, I am just thinking of ways to minimise costs during a void period. Current AST ends June.

          [have no mortgage and as far as I can tell from my landlord insurance I may need to pay a premium for letting to a student rather than a 'professional'.

          Of course there would be contractual issues, but I guess I could just do a 6 month AST, zero rent, with a break clause allowing the Tenant to give 1 day notice at any time.]


          • #6
            Any tenancy with zero or low rent cannot be, may not be, legally impossible to be an AST (well, an AT, but an AST is but a special case of AT).

            An AST does not have to be 6 months: Entirely legal to have one for 1 day, 1 week, 3 weeks, 28 days, 3 months...

            Were I your council I would view your plan as tax evasion initially. (Unlikely, but council could be viewing..)
            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...


            • #7

              You would be out of luck with claiming the Class N exemption in my opinion.

              In order for a student exemption to be applied a property is required to be 'occupied' by a 'relevant person'. A relevant person is one who is a student for council tax purposes but more importantly there must be a use of the property as term time accommodation or they must be 'resident' in the property*.

              (b) a dwelling is to be regarded as occupied by a relevant person as term time accommodation during any vacation in which he--
              (i) holds a freehold or leasehold interest in or licence to occupy the whole or any part of the dwelling; and
              (ii) has previously used or intends to use the dwelling as term time accommodation;]
              Council Tax (exempt dwellings) order 1992, amended.

              You'd also be out of luck claiming any reduction under the LGFA 1992 on the basis that the occupier of the property is disregarded (as a property with students would be without the exemption, a 50% disregard) - the 50% disregard would require the property be occupied as someone's 'sole or main residence' to be applicable, a temporary residence would not meet that criteria.

              * A resident is a person aged 18 years or older who has occupies a property as they're 'sole or main residence'

              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.


              • #8
                thanks guys, that clears that up !


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