Council tax liability dates make no sense?

by Readers Question

10:04 AM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Council tax liability dates make no sense?

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Council tax liability dates make no sense?

I have been billed for council tax for a void period. The tenant left on 31 August and a new one moved in on 9th September.tax date

I was charged for the void period as 31 Aug to 8th September. I believe I should have been charged for the period 1-8 September.

Although the amount involved is insignificant I believe the principle is interesting , the council reply is:

“To clarify, I would advise you that Council Tax Law provides that a persons liability begins on the first day of ownership/occupation, but ceases the day prior to their sale/vacation. In this case their tenancy ceased on 31st August 2016 and therefore were charged until the 30st August 2016, therefore resulting in the owner of the premises being liable with effect from the 31st August 2016”

On that basis I will have to advise all new tenants who take over properties consecutively that they will be responsible for council tax for the day before they move in!

Is this right?

Phil



Comments

Luke P

11:12 AM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Remember if they are still inside a fixed term then the liability continues with the tenant.

Ian Narbeth

11:22 AM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

If the rules were not like this then, if Tenant A moved out and Tenant B moved in on the same day, Councils would charge both occupiers for that day. The law avoids double charging.

11:23 AM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Council Tax liability falls on whoever has the liability at the end of the day (section 2 of the local government finance act 1992)- I'd imagine that the council , on the information they have, have made a determination that the tenants liability ended at the time they moved out and therefore you are liable under Council Tax legislation for that day.

I would add to above that it's not just fixed term periods (granted for 6 months or more) where the non-resident tenant remains liable until the end of the fixed period of the tenancy but also in case where the tenant has continued past the fixed term and in to a contractual period then they will also remain liable for the Council Tax until the end of their tenancy.

Craig / lgfa92

Luke P

11:24 AM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "CouncilTaxGuy " at "04/10/2016 - 11:23":

Indeed, but harder to evidence to simplistic council staff.

11:26 AM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

I should add that it is common for a one day period to fall between tenancies by virtue of Section 2 - although there can be arguments as to whether a tenancy ends prior to midnight or not where a tenant has left and therefore whether there is a one period or not. There is some old tenancy law on that point but it's not been tested in court specifically re council tax as far as I'm aware.

Craig / lgfa92

11:30 AM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "04/10/2016 - 11:24":

To be fair to them (and I worked in local authority for 10 years) they are not trained to understand it in most cases - even on paid training courses I attended it was never once addressed.

I tried my best with some other staff and we did get a good few together who were actually capable of self-thought but the training management (who I will add didn't like me, nor me them) preferred mindless drones who would jump out of the window if told to and not query it (suffice to say the training management had their own interpretation of some things)

Craig / lgfa92

Romain Garcin

12:04 PM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

The question of council tax liability for the day the tenant leaves pops up regularly.

As CouncilTaxGuypointed out, liability for the day is based on the situation at the end of the day.

If a tenant checks out during the day then I think everyone will agree that once that has happened the landlord has got possession of the property and can do whatever he wants with it during the rest of the day. Likewise the tenant has no further responsibility thereafter.

Therefore I think that councils are correct to conclude that landlords are liable for council tax for that day.

David Price

12:15 PM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "04/10/2016 - 12:04":

The secret is to make sure that the tenancy ends at midnight. It matters not that the tenant has left, it's when the tenancy ends that counts.

Ian Narbeth

12:23 PM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "04/10/2016 - 12:15":

"The secret is to make sure that the tenancy ends at midnight. It matters not that the tenant has left, it’s when the tenancy ends that counts."

Tenants will usually check out well before midnight. Giving up possession and handing back the keys probably terminates the tenancy at that moment whatever the document says. Even if you can make it so that the tenant is "responsible" for the last day, that will almost certainly cut no ice with the council who will treat the tenant as liable until the day before. What is the landlord to do? Claim one day's Council Tax from the tenant? What a way to generate bad will! Take it on the chin and accept it as part of the costs of being a landlord.

The real problem is that many councils now give no void allowance for Council Tax. No taxation without service provision!

Romain Garcin

12:24 PM, 4th October 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Narbeth" at "04/10/2016 - 12:23":

"Tenants will usually check out well before midnight. Giving up possession and handing back the keys probably terminates the tenancy at that moment whatever the document says."

Exactly what I was getting at, Ian.

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