300% Council tax premium on empty property?

300% Council tax premium on empty property?

9:49 AM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago 12

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In February my daughter (first-time buyer on lowish income) bought an empty terraced house to live in. She could see that the house had been empty for a while but nobody warned her about empty property council tax premiums. The local council (Leicester City) now says that she is liable for council tax at 300% for the period it has remained empty since completion while renovations have been undertaken. The work consisted of new gutters, rewiring, installation of central heating, complete replastering, new kitchen and bathroom and redecoration.

The local empty housing officer did ask her to complete a questionnaire about her intentions and she received some reduced VAT on some of the work whilst paying her normal council tax assessment.

Having just been billed for the extra CT she is rushing to complete enough work to be able to occupy the house as soon as possible.

Should her solicitor have warned her about the council tax? It doesn’t appear to be part of the standard search questions.

Is there anything she can do about the CT premium?

Many thanks

Simon



Comments

by Simon M

12:06 PM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago

The legislation was brought in to ensure homes weren't left empty for a long time, and a 200% premium for properties uninhabited for at least 2 years. Often well-intentioned has unforseen consequences.

CT liability starts on the day of purchase.
1. There's usually a grace period of 4 weeks and sometimes longer for refurbishment work.
2. She'd be entitled to 25% reduction (of the whole amount?) on the grounds there aren't 2 adults living there.
3. If CT wasn't paid for some of the 2 years because the previous occupant was exempt (eg in hospital) there may be an argument to reduce the premium to 100%. She'd need to show, or at least challenge the council to prove, when the previous occupancy (not ownership) ended. Alternatively, if her local councillor is sympathetic and takes up the case, the council may find it has some discretion.

Please tell us what success she has any success.

by Tim Rogers

12:09 PM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago

Not had to deal with this type of premium before. Certainly in Reading they insist on full payment as if occupied, (not even a 25% discount for sole occupancy). Gone are the days of 6 months nil tax as you renovate.

I'm not certain, but I believe if the property is uninhabitable, due to works etc, (that used to be defined as not having bathroom facilities), then the premium doesn't apply. The original concept was to stop habitable empty flats being kept empty by property speculators. An understandable intent, but it does not take into account how long it can take to find decent tenants.

But so much is getting twisted by councils for there own purposes, it's become farcical.

by reader

12:18 PM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago

Hello

Now I know what might be coming my way.
Suggest you might contact Valuation Office or find out what makes a property uninhabitable for valuation purposes and is therefore Council Tax exempt. It can be back dated.

by Peter Hindley

17:43 PM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago

Council website states 300% if empty for more than 5 years. Can you prove how long it had been empty before she bought it?
https://www.leicester.gov.uk/your-community/council-tax/unoccupied-homes/

by Simon Britton

18:49 PM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago

According to the council's empty homes officer the property had been empty for over 5 years when she bought it in February.

Should the potential issue have been flagged up by her solicitor or surveyor prior to purchase?

by Anne Nixon

22:02 PM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago

I bought a property which had been empty for over two years before I bought it and so double council tax was due to start on completion of purchase.
I set up a direct debit and then called the council tax office to query whether I actually had to pay double (after all I was not in control of what had happened before I had bought it?).
The property needed a full refurbishment and the officer I spoke with granted me a full year paying just the normal. single tax to complete the works, saying that should the property not be inhabited within a year then the double CT would kick in again.
That leads me to think that the council are able to apply some discretion on the rate payable, but then again it possibly varies from one council to the next?

by Paul Shears

22:42 PM, 26th July 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Simon M at 26/07/2021 - 12:06
2. She'd be entitled to 25% reduction (of the whole amount?) on the grounds there aren't 2 adults living there.
Well not in my area! You pay full council tax on the property from the day it is empty.

by Peter Hindley

10:00 AM, 27th July 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Simon Britton at 26/07/2021 - 18:49
I wouldn't have thought either of those professionals would have thought that CT was within their remit.

Looking at the Exemptions on Leicester's website I don't see how she can get out of it strictly speaking. Best thing to do would be to personally plead her case with a nice Council official to see if a deal can be done. Something like 'these rules are fair enough for people who deliberately keep property empty but I'm trying to create a home so I would have thought that the Council would be in favour of that and able to exercise their discretion in this unique situation'.

by chris

14:16 PM, 27th July 2021, About 2 months ago

a lot of this all depends where she is living at present and is she paying CT on another property

by Simon Britton

18:42 PM, 27th July 2021, About 2 months ago

Was living with us while her house was being renovated and paying council tax with 25% discount.

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