Council Demands Landlord’s Contact Details From Tenants – Threatens A Fine For Non Compliance

Council Demands Landlord’s Contact Details From Tenants – Threatens A Fine For Non Compliance

13:22 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago 24

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One of our long-time tenants in the London Borough of Hackney (who is up to date with their Council Tax) received the email below last week. It refers to “Regulation 3 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992”, details of which can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/613/regulation/3/made.

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From: “Council Tax”
Date: ** February ********
To: [Tenant Name & Email Address removed by Theodore]
Subject: [Property Address removed by Theodore]

Message
Dear [Tenant Name removed by Theodore]

Our ref: [Information removed by Theodore]

I am writing to ask you to supply the following information in respect of the above property.

Please provide the name(s) and contact details of your landlord.

I must advise you that in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992, you are legally obliged to supply the information requested as it is required to enable the authority to determine liability for Council Tax.

Please note that failure to supply the information within 21 days of the date of this email may result in the Authority imposing a financial penalty of £50.00 upon you.

Yours sincerely

[Council Employee’s Name removed by Theodore]

Council Tax Officer
Finance and Resources Directorate
Revenues and Benefits Service
Telephone: 020 8356 3***
Fax: 020 8356 3***

Email : Council.Tax@hackney.gov.uk
Website : www.hackney.gov.uk

Hackney Council may exercise its right to intercept any communication, the only exception to this would be confidential survey data, with any employee or agent of the Council using its telephony or data networks. By using these networks you give your consent to Hackney Council monitoring and recording your communication. If you have received this e-mail in error please delete it immediately and contact the sender. For further information about Hackney Council policies please contact Hackney Service Centre on: 020 8356 3000.

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My understanding is that the only time when an owner of a property is liable for the payment of Council Tax is when a property is: in multiple occupation; or all the people who live in the property are under the age of 18, or the property is accommodation for asylum seekers; or the people who are staying in the property are there temporarily and have their main homes somewhere else; or the property is a care home, hospital, hostel or women’s refuge.

Given that the property the tenants are living in is none of the above (and the Council knows this) can “Regulation 3 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992” be used this way to gather landlord contact information?

Can a Council impose a financial penalty on the tenant or a managing agent if they refuse to supply the contact details of the landlord?

Personally I don’t believe that Regulation 3 can be used to give a Council the authority to demand a landlord’s contact details from a tenant or a managing agent, and that the Council’s threat of financial penalty for failing to do so within 21 days is little more than bullying.

Would appreciate everyone’s thoughts.

Theodorecouncil fine



Comments

by r01

17:04 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Where's the problem ?

Assuming neither you or the tenant have anything to hide just tell the tenant to comply then give the council a ring and ask them what it's all about.

Simples ....

by Shakeel Ahmad

18:41 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

The Councils are incompetent, wasteful, arrogant and are getting desperate to grab money in what ever way they can to pay their high salaries, gilt edge pensions.

The CT collection were abandoned last April. This is what you will get from now onwards. The rules about traffic management changed a few years ago & the result is all in front of us.that we cannot take our car out of the garage without being booked, high street dyeing while business rates show no reflection ( I do not pay business rates)

The letter could have been written with a common courtesy. Remember when you deal with them they don't like to tolerate callers behaviour. The fact that callers are not polite to them for precise the kind of Council behaviour.

I would like to have the justification for the double charge. When the property/owner are not using the services. Is the Council suggesting that due to the property being empty there are coppers sitting outside to protect the building oe as no rubbish is being collected from the property the dustman have to be twice as per his union rules.

by Paul Jemetta

18:48 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Tell me about it. My father sadly passed away last November and I inherited the house through survivorship. It used to be the case that there was a grace period between the date of death and the date of liability to tax. Since 'localism' came in, my father's council gives no grace period whatsoever. The CT bill for his now empty house is more than when he was living there on his own.

Councils face a huge problem in dealing with couples pretending that they're singles. The lunacy of this situation is that if I asserted that I was living at the property, they'd be trying to assert that it's empty in order to charge me more.

Apologies, off topic rant over.

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

18:51 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "shakeel ahmad" at "18/02/2014 - 18:41":

the CT de-regulation last April was a means to enable central government to no longer fund 100% of Council Tax Benefit for those on benefits.... Only 90% of CT is now paid for on behalf of those on benefit.

Councils have been given carte blanche as to how they fund the remaining 10% - some councils are retaining empty property discount, some are not, some are even charging 150%

These charges have nothing to do with fairness or buying a service... it is a tax - pure and simple. They charge property developers/landlords because they think we are an easy target and because they see us as very wealthy. VERY few council staff see that the PRS could be working in conjunction with councils to solve the housing problems - instead of being seen as the enemy.

by Romain Garcin

20:27 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "18/02/2014 - 18:51":

"These charges have nothing to do with fairness or buying a service… it is a tax – pure and simple"

The hint was in the name, "Council Tax".

by Theodore Brown Property Management

16:27 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "18/02/2014 - 13:24":

Correct, the tenant does not claim housing benefit.

by Theodore Brown Property Management

16:37 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "18/02/2014 - 13:33":

We are not the landlord, merely the landlord's managing agent. I do not have a problem with the Council having my contact details (which they now do) but I am not about to hand over the contact details of the landlord/owner of the property without their permission (assuming of course that I am not compelled to by the law to do so).

I wasn't aware that "national guidelines on CT collection were abandoned last April" and I am not aware of this specific Council's policy - but now that I know the guidelines have been abandoned I will find that out.

So far I've been guided by the following information sources:
http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/tax_e/tax_council_tax_ew/council_tax.htm
&
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/613/contents/made

by Theodore Brown Property Management

16:52 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sue P" at "18/02/2014 - 13:47":

It may not have been clear in the initial posting but we are managing the property on behalf of the landlord - we are not the landlord. I have no problem with the Council having our contact details (which they do now) but I am not about to divulge the landlord's contact details without the landlord's permission.

You've also made a salient point. The request does not reference any specific period. The current tenants have been there continuously for more than four years and are not in arrears. If there is a specific period in the past when the Council Tax wasn't paid, it would pre-date our management and the current tenants occupancy and I don't think the Council would have waited this long to act. I believe it is a general request for contact information.

by Theodore Brown Property Management

17:26 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Lou Valdini" at "18/02/2014 - 15:30":

I have no problem with the Council having my contact details - which they now have.

As you say, S3 refers to the tenant - who in this case is the ‘liable person’ and has been during the last four or so years they've occupied the premises. (The owner of any property/landlord is only liable for the CT in an occupied property under the circumstances referred to in the initial post and none of these circumstances apply.)

Indeed, in the 'Hierarchy of Liability' for CT, the owner/landlord is placed fifth out of five categories - they are literally the last resort. He/she is even less liable than a squatter.

Source: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/tax_e/tax_council_tax_ew/council_tax.htm

I can only assume that the council are requesting the landlord's details as a 'backup contact' in case the CT is not paid (say during a void period) in the future - but if so, I can't see how they can use S3 for that purpose (nor how they can use it to demand other information under threat of a fine).

by Theodore Brown Property Management

17:58 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Might it be possible that Hackney Council are attempting to gather the landlord's contact details from the tenant because they set up their own letting agency two months ago?

Source: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/council-opens-letting-agency-to-help-protect-private-sector-tenants-9012450.html

We manage properties across about two dozen different Council Boroughs/Districts/Unitary Authorities and none apart from Hackney have ever demanded a landlord's contact details under threat of penalty. None of the other local authorities we deal with have set up their own not-for-profit 'Social Lettings' Agency' either. I'm not asserting that the Council are trying to use S3 to canvass landlords for their agency or that they're threatening tenants with a financial penalty in order to increase their chances of getting landlord's contact information - but it's quite a coincidence.

Time to call the Council and ask some pointed questions on behalf of both the tenant and landlord.

Thanks for all your comments so far.


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