Council Tax allowance used previously before purchase?

by Readers Question

9:49 AM, 29th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Council Tax allowance used previously before purchase?

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Council Tax allowance used previously before purchase?

Recently I just received a council tax bill for £407, addressed to me with a secondary address reference to a recent buy to let, at first I assumed they had sent it me and was the tenant’s bill. Illogical

The dates on bill related to the purchase date and tenant start over a 4 month period. I rang them to query as the house was unoccupied, unfurnished and under full renovation so had no facilities and not fit for occupancy.

I argued the case, but she was adamant that I get 100% relief for first month and 50% for the following months and from April just 100% the first month then no further allowance.

I still wasn’t happy asking why am I paying it, she said the allowance must have already been used on the property before purchase, I said that’s not even fair or logical, so I am challenging the bill and sent pictures of works etc to them for evaluation.

Can anyone shed some light in this as never had a bill off any of previous properties. The property was empty and bought at auction.

Martin



Comments

terry sullivan

11:35 AM, 29th February 2016
About 3 years ago

ask your landlord association? things have changed but a property that cannot be legally occupied should not be taxable--but with present and previous troughers it may be.

Jonathan R

11:37 AM, 29th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Martin,

A similar thing happened to me. I have used the free council tax period in the past when renovating property. Then with my most recent property I was informed by the council when I rang up to let them know the property was empty and under renovation that the sellers had already used the allowance (the sale did drag on a while).

What I am not clear on is if this was always the case, if it is a recent change in policy or if it simply varies across councils.

Good luck arguing with the council - I have never had much success doing that!

Jonathan

Paul Mullally

11:40 AM, 29th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Martin,
Council Tax rules on discounts are decided locally, so your council may well be different to mine.

For South Bucks, you can apply for a 100% discount for unoccupied or properties under renovation for a maximum period of 90days in each accounting year. The important thing is that the discount is applied against the property and not the legal owner. So if a previous owner/tenant has claimed the relief in the same year, you won't be able to claim it also.

A case in point, is that I had one tenant who left early and paid me for the remaining lease period, but she claimed the "empty property relief" for approx. 40 days. When I tried to use it myself, I only had 50 days relief and full charge for the rest of the period while I renovated the property.

You'll have to pay it I'm afraid!

Luke P

11:43 AM, 29th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Most councils now allow only one period of exemption in any one financial year unless there has been a 'break' through continuous occupation for at least six weeks. There's no specific right for it to be used by any one particular individual and indeed I have even had tenants making use of the period in their final month and claim they weren't actually using the premises as their main residence, nor was it furnished -after the fact, it is very difficult to prove.

I imagine this is correct (although be sure to claim your exemption if it is still empty come April).

Romain Garcin

11:48 AM, 29th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Those discount/exemption periods apply to the property, not each successive liable person.

So if for example there is a full exemption for the first month a property is unoccupied and unfurnished then that is exactly what happens.
The persons benefiting are the persons liable for council tax during that period. That may be you or that may be the previous owner.

Vanessa Barlow

19:21 PM, 1st March 2016
About 3 years ago

I had a similar situation with a property I bought (stoke on trent council). The stoke on trent version of the allowance had been used up prior to me buying it, as it had been empty for over a year. As Romain says, the allowance applies to the property, not the person who owns it. If your local authority is similar, it gives you more incentive to finish the refurb quickly. And any future properties, a good idea to check out the council tax situation as soon as you buy, to avoid any nasty shocks at a later date.

Martin Gardner

9:21 AM, 2nd March 2016
About 3 years ago

Thanks for your responses, I still find it unfair that you should be liable for council tax if allowance on the property has already been used, by the previous occupancy. The property was empty for a while so not sure who was claiming as it was under management. I really should be only be liable for the property from purchase, I know this is not the case but it should be, as feel I am being penalised.

It's bizarre that each council sets its own rules and should be a rule of property law which is uniform across any property if life was so simple...

Even though she did say she could not tell me who claimed the previous allowance, she did confirm that they could tell me if the allowance had been used prior to purchase, so at least we could accommodate this cost.

David Lovegrove

9:29 AM, 2nd March 2016
About 3 years ago

It does seem unfair , I have been caught out on a couple of occasions when purchasing.
I now check the situation out before completing on a property.
You live and learn.

Martin Gardner

14:39 PM, 2nd March 2016
About 3 years ago

Interesting that I have received a new bill this morning after my email and telephone conversation to the local council. They have now revised my tax bill from £407.03 to £159.71 and in fact given me now the allowance of 100% first month and 50% reduction for the remaining months. I could argue that it does state where furnished, that they give 50%, but unfurnished is 100% for 6 months. But I may just accept that a win before pushing my luck.

Luke P

15:02 PM, 2nd March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Martin Gardner" at "02/03/2016 - 14:39":

100% for six months...that's what we used to get under the 'old' system here in North East Lincolnshire, but now we only get ONE month's exemption.

You did well.

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