Am I really liable for council tax?

Am I really liable for council tax?

0:01 AM, 20th January 2023, About 2 months ago 19

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Hello, I have a 5 year HMO licence on a property in London until 2024. During Covid we found it difficult to find suitable tenants and in 2021 decided to rent the whole house to one family on an AST contract.

The council have informed me I am liable for the council tax for this period as I did not surrender the HMO licence when I rented the house on an AST contract.

I have sent a copy of the tenancy agreement to the council which clearly states the tenants are responsible for paying the council tax bill for their duration in the property.

The council are insisting I have to pay the council tax bill as this is a HMO licensed property.

I fail to understand why the council will not issue the council tax bill in the tenant’s name.

Any assistance on this matter would be appreciated.

Thank you,

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14:55 PM, 20th January 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by C CA at 20/01/2023 - 14:46
I wanted to say to tell the council that you will dispute in COURT if the council do not accept what has been agreed under the AST.


17:27 PM, 20th January 2023, About 2 months ago

In general and I think in law, the Landlord of an HMO is responsible for the CT.
However if it was a single family moves in unless you have informed the council of this it is still the landlords responsibility. Look at the T&Cs of your licence.

Martin Thomas

0:29 AM, 21st January 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Martin at 20/01/2023 - 17:27
Martin, I think you are completely wrong. My understanding is the OCCUPIER of a property is liable for Council Tax, not the owner. The only time a landlord would be liable is if the property is empty.

Simon F

0:50 AM, 21st January 2023, About 2 months ago

I have HMOs and let sometimes on joint contracts sometimes on individual room contracts. If it is a joint contract, the tenant (as a group) are billed for council tax directly. When individual contracts, I collect CT from the tenant and pay it to the council. But either way, I always inform council revenue services of who is occupying and if joint/individual contract at the START of the let. And at the end of a joint let, I always check with revenue services to see if there is any CT outstanding before releasing the deposit. Then make sure they have forwarding addresses to chase it, or I'll make the deduction and pay it. For you now at this late stage, if you know where the family are, you should chase them for the missing sum - a letter followed up by money claim online - as you say that was detailed in the contract - they are contractually obliged irrespective of who the council deem responsible. And yes the council are within their rights to pay no heed to the contract, but.. the Licence doesn't make an HMO, just allows you operate one. Planning system is far more relevant. If you have mixed C3+C4 planning consent, that would support your position if it goes to court or tribunal (the mixed use means you can legitimately switch use flexibly).. But if the property is C4 only in planning system, the council have a point. If it's just C3 in the planning system, you have a different problem altogether.

Ross Tulloch

9:48 AM, 21st January 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Stephen at 20/01/2023 - 11:09
Interesting. We get huge demand for a room for a single person in our HMO's in London

pbez64 pbez64

9:51 AM, 21st January 2023, About 2 months ago

Basically it's a s.16 appeal under lgfa 1992. Complaint route is wrong as that leads to ombudsman not valuation tribunal. Should be straightforward really. Send them copy of agreement, tell them that from date on agreement property isnt a himo anymore but single let and wait for them to agree. The fact your property is a licensed himo isn't really relevant here as AST overrides it for ct purposes and their reliance on your himo licence won't stand up at any VT . As other posters here say it is always best to ensure council is notified of tenancy change at time and not to always rely on the tenant to register!!

pbez64 pbez64

13:18 PM, 21st January 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Martin Thomas at 21/01/2023 - 00:29
Council tax liability for owners regs 1992. Prescribes the classes of dwelling whereby the owner is liable not the occupier. Class c- himo.


13:27 PM, 22nd January 2023, About 2 months ago

There is a hierarchy of liability for council tax.

In this instance, you have AST showing it was let to a single family unit, making it their responsibility.
As said elsewhere, never assume tenants will notify utilities or council, so invest an hour of your time to save the grief at a later date.

Paying council tax
This advice applies to England

Council tax is a system of local taxation collected by local authorities. It is a tax on domestic property. Some property is exempt from council tax. Some people do not have to pay council tax and some people get a discount.
Valuation bands

All homes are given a council tax valuation band by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The band is based on the value of your home on 1 April 1991. A different amount of council tax is charged on each band. Each local authority keeps a list of all the domestic property in its area, together with its valuation band. This is called the valuation list.

The valuation bands are:
Valuation band Range of values
A Up to £40,000
B Over £40,000 and up to £52,000
C Over £52,000 and up to £68,000
D Over £68,000 and up to £88,000
E Over £88,000 and up to £120,000
F Over £120,000 and up to £160,000
G Over £160,000 and up to £320,000
H Over £320,000
Finding out what band a property is in

You can check your council tax band on GOV.UK or you can find it on your council tax bill.

You can also check the valuation list at your local council’s main offices - and it might be available at your local library. There might be a small charge.

If a property is put into a different band, the VOA will write to the council tax payer, informing them of the change. The local council will send them a new council tax bill.
Properties exempt from council tax

Some property is exempt from council tax altogether. It might be exempt for only a short period, for example, 6 months, or indefinitely.

Properties which might be exempt include:

condemned property

property which has been legally re-possessed by a mortgage lender

property unoccupied because the person who lived there now lives elsewhere because they need to be cared for, for example, in hospital, in a care home or with relatives

property which is unoccupied because the person who lived there has gone to care for someone else

any property that only students or Foreign Language Assistants on the official British Council programme live in - this could be a hall of residence, or a house (if the property is occupied by both students and non-students the property is not exempt but any students in the house are disregarded)

a holiday caravan or boat if it's on a property where council tax is paid

a property where all the people who live in it are aged under 18

property which is occupied only by people with severe mental impairment

a self-contained annexe where the person who lives in it is a dependent relative of the owner of the main property

Who has to pay council tax

Usually one person, called the ‘liable person’, has to pay council tax. Nobody under the age of 18 can be a liable person.

Couples living together will both be 'jointly and severally liable' - this means they are responsible as a couple but also individually. This is the case even if there is only one name on the bill and applies if the couple is married, cohabiting or in a civil partnership.

No one is under an obligation to make a payment until they are issued with a bill in their name or, if they are jointly and severally liable, with a joint taxpayers' notice.

Usually, the person living in a property will be the liable person, but sometimes it will be the owner of the property who will be liable to pay.

The owner will be liable if any of these are true:

the property is in multiple occupation, for example, a house shared by a number of different households who all pay rent separately

the people who live in the property are all under the age of 18

the property is accommodation for asylum seekers

the people who are staying in the property are there temporarily and have their main homes somewhere else

the property is a care home, hospital, hostel or women's refuge

If only 1 person lives in a property they will be the liable person. If more than 1 person lives there, a system called the hierarchy of liability is used to work out who is the liable person. The person at the top, or nearest to the top, of the hierarchy is the liable person. Two people at the same point of the hierarchy will both be liable.

The hierarchy of liability is:

A resident owner-occupier who owns either the leasehold or freehold of all or part of the property.
A resident tenant.
A resident who lives in the property and who is a licensee - this means that they’re not a tenant, but have permission to stay there.
Any resident living in the property, for example, a squatter.
An owner of the property where no one is resident.

Neil Heffey

19:50 PM, 22nd January 2023, About 2 months ago

You are not liable for council tax. Section 6 of the Local Government Finance Act sets out who is to be determined as the liable party.,be%20jointly%20and%20severally%20liable.

Have they obtained a liability order against you? If so you only have a very limited period of time to have it set aside and challenge it.

The fact that you have a HMO licence means you can let to multiple occupiers , it does not prevent you from letting the property to one family unless the HMO licence specifically states that it does.

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