Should I sell or risk tenants buying at undervalue price?9:08 AM, 25th September 2019
About 4 weeks ago 48
I am in quite dire need of advice. The local council (Shrewsbury) made me liable for my tenants’ unpaid council tax bill on my property for the period they remained in my property while I was enforcing a court order to get them to leave.
I served notice to vacate through the agency on the tenant in Dec 14, and they were supposed to vacate in Feb 15, which they did not. It took until Feb 16, one whole year, to enforce a court and order and bailiffs to get them to leave. Naturally, over this time they paid no rent, leaving me some £5,000 out of pocket and left the property in such a state that it will take months to get it read to rent again or even sell.
After they vacated, it became apparent that the tenant had started renting another property in Jul 15 (I know this from the council because the tenants started paying council tax on that property from that date). Essentially, between the period Jul 15 and Feb 16 my tenant was paying for their new rented property while also remaining in mine, not paying any rent while I had to get the bailiffs to get them out.
Shrewsbury council have told me that a tenant cannot pay council taxes on two ‘rented’ properties (even though they weren’t paying the rent on mine and weren’t supposed to be there), thus leaving me liable for council tax from the period Jul 15 – Feb 16, and that I am liable to pay council tax for the period they were illegally occupying the property. Just doesn’t seem fair.
I have sent letters explaining the situation to the Council asking them to transfer the debt to the tenant (council have refused), or write off the payment (they also refused). I have sent them documents with proof of notice to leave, missed rent payments, letters from the court, bailiff’s letters, even a letter the tenant sent me dated 16 Feb 16 in which they admit occupying the property up until this date, photos of the terrible state they left the property in. All of this has unmoved the council and I today received a court summons for non payment of council tax.
The council tax bill is ‘only’ £580, but I can ill afford to pay it. I have to move for my work and am renting in London at the moment.
Can anyone advise me on where to go from here? I could just pay the council tax, thus adding another loss to the thousands these tenants have cost me already, but is does not seem right that I should be liable for council tax for the period that they were illegally occupying my property.
Very grateful for any advice that someone can give me.
For what it is worth, I have managed to get the tenant’s new address, but am loath to use Small Claims to get the money back as that costs more money and they are unlikely to pay.
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