Caught out by tenant paying council tax at another property?

by Readers Question

11:13 AM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Caught out by tenant paying council tax at another property?

Make Text Bigger
Caught out by tenant paying council tax at another property?

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.caught out

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.

James

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.



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:16 AM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi James,

It is not just the £580 council tax but also the £5,000, which I am assuming some is arrears?

Would you not consider taking them to court for a higher amount?

Gary Nock

11:46 AM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi James

I think you need some legal advice either from Citizens Advice or from a solicitor. Ask the council where they get the " a tenant can only pay council tax on one property" from. I have tenants who keep a property on for a week after they move into a new one to ease the moving process. And they pay council tax on two properties. If somebody buys a house and moves into it and leaves their old one empty do the council not expect council tax to be paid? Read up on the court process about liability orders for council tax. See what would happen if you went to court and contested it on the basis that you are not the person responsible for the council tax. You can prove occupancy by your tenant. Why should you pay?

Tony Evans

11:51 AM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Totally agree with Gary. I'm paying two lots of council tax at the moment as I'm refurbishing one property to sell whilst renting another. Think what they have told you is incorrect so ask them to prove it to you.

Dr Rosalind Beck

12:10 PM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

If the person has a reasonably well-paid job and you know or can find out who the employer is, I would sue them for the whole amount they owe you, including damages to the house if you have receipts, proof etc and then when the amount is awarded I would get an attachment of earnings at their workplace. I have used this method many times and although it takes months to do each stage it is sweet when the cheques start landing on your doormat.

(Also, if you have any proof at all that at any point they said they were going to leave and didn't, you can get them for double rent from that point onwards)

terry sullivan

12:20 PM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

yes--if you have a second home--you have to pay ct

Tim Fenn

12:29 PM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi,
I've had this too, what they mean is the tenant cant claim council tax credit on two properties.
The tenant was in possession of two properties at the same time and is liable for the council tax on both of them.
I suspect the council are trying it on as the tenant has informed them they have moved out last year but neglected to tell you they had vacated to cause you grief.
I assume you have a copy of the tenancy and possession order to send to the council?

Luke P

12:35 PM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

A tenancy is not ended until it is legally ended, thus the tenants ARE still liable for the C.tax regardless of whether they were actually residing in the property the entire time as they are the responsible party. Many LAs appear to be trying similar tactics knowing many landlords will pay up/the tenants would be unlikely to pay even if they did bill them, so stand your ground. You will likely get a summons, but state your case.

Dave Riches

13:00 PM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Had exactly this but for only a 4 month period - Local councils tend to give a one month grace period on tenants moving and then seek CT from the owner of the property. My LA claimed I would need to have a SHTA in place with an expiry date to prove occupancy however if its a rolling tenancy then the council may not budge - as happened to me. I bit the bullet and paid as it was only couple of hundred quid.

Simon M

13:03 PM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

As others have already said, the explanation a tenant cannot rent two properties is wrong. Council Tax debt is routinely transferred when a person moves within the local authority area.They might have been challenging you whether the tenant had moved out earlier - you don't mention if you have shown them the documentary evidence of enforcement action through the courts. Another explanation would be if the other property belongs to the Council or a Housing Association. If this is the case, the tenant may not be entitled and the Council should refer to their fraud team. I would ask to speak to a Council Tax team leader.

Peter Fredericks

13:15 PM, 27th June 2016
About 2 years ago

The liability for council tax in such circumstances turns upon a legal distinction between whether the AST is a "periodic tenancy" or "contractual periodic tenancy". If the former, I am afraid you are liable to the Council for Council tax even if your AST is expressed to require the tenant to be liable to you for the Council Tax through the term. If the latter, the tenant is liable. Your AST needs to state that after the expiry of the fixed term a "contractual periodic tenancy" will be in place.

1 2 4

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Patrick Collinson has got it wrong yet again!

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More