End of Tenancy Council Tax Demand – update

by Readers Question

11:36 AM, 30th August 2012
About 6 years ago

End of Tenancy Council Tax Demand – update

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End of Tenancy Council Tax Demand – update

Thanks for the responses to the original post, also entitled “End of Tenancy Council tax Demand“. To clarify the position it was a furnished tenancy so the empty relief is not possible.

Most of your responses confirmed my feelings on the matter but, as I had not been in this position before, I wanted to check fact/opinions before contacting the council which is Cornwall Council.

Having made the further contract and pointed out the right for the council to collect Council Tax for the last day of tenancy but from the Tenant I have received the undermentioned reply:

I am writing with regard to your email to Mr O’Neil concerning the council tax payable for Rose Villa, 46 Fore Street , Polruan. In your email you are asking us to issue a revised invoice as you disagree with the date from which the landlord of the property has been charged. As a team leader in the income section your appeal has been referred to me for reconsideration. Our actions to charge the landlord from the 31 July 2012 are based on legislation. Section 2 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 states the following: Liability to tax determined on a daily basis.

(1)Liability to pay council tax shall be determined on a daily basis.

(2)For the purposes of determining for any day— (a)whether any property is a chargeable dwelling;

(b) Which valuation band is shown in the billing authority’s valuation list as applicable to any chargeable dwelling;

(c) The person liable to pay council tax in respect of any such dwelling; or

(d) Whether any amount of council tax is subject to a discount and (if

so) the amount of the discount,

it shall be assumed that any state of affairs subsisting at the end of the day had subsisted throughout.

As possession of the property was handed back to the landlord prior to midnight, that day is charged to the landlord, this being the state of affairs that subsisted at the end of the day. You have confirmed in your email of the 2 August 2012 that the keys were handed back by the tenants at 23:50.

If you remain unhappy with our decision you have a further right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. Contact details for the tribunal are as below.

As it is only one day’s Council Tax I don’t think it worthwhile going to Court over this or trying to recover it from the tenant at this late stage but it is a ”lesson learnt” and I will check the situation next time before  refunding the security deposit so I can recover the last day’s Council Tax from same if needed.

David Hill



Comments

19:19 PM, 30th August 2012
About 6 years ago

Incorrect interpretation. The KEYS were handed back NOT possession of the property - which is clearly governed and documented by notice/ lease I would point this out - refuse to pay and test it in court - I'll eat my hat if you lose. With this logic people leaving a week or month early are no longer bound by AST - which is nonsense.

7:06 AM, 31st August 2012
About 6 years ago

I completely agree with rodent, when the keys were handed back is irrelevant. The AST is the legally binding document that establishes possession of the property. I currently have a tenant who has signed a contract to start his tenancy on the 1st september but asked to pick up the keys on the 3rd. In the past I've had students renting accommodation on a 12 month AST but only picking up the keys at the start of term 6 weeks after the start date. In neither case did my having the keys mean I have possession of the property (I couldn't for example have rented it to someone else), the contract specified that the tenants were in possession. As an illustration for the council, imagine your tenant had popped back 5 mins after giving you the keys and asked for them back so he could get something he had forgotten, you couldn't have legally refused as the possession of the property was his until midnight.

8:11 AM, 31st August 2012
About 6 years ago

Note for my tenants: posting your keys through my letter box does not end your obligations as set out in the AST !

8:31 AM, 31st August 2012
About 6 years ago

TA - that's my shorthand for Tenancy Agreement (not junior Army) - I use 2 letter abbrevs. not 3 cos I'm cool.......TA saying for instance tenancy from 1 aug 2012 to 30 sep 2013 inclusive (or end of 30 sep) is unambigious. Also .... if you are not occupying a property because your firm's project X for instance in that part of the world, never got underway, but the landlord is not putting someone in your place as maybe a) your firm are covering the rent or b) the owners are keeping it empty to prove they can't mitigate their losses by filling it ..... or whatever whatever whatever ... the council will STILL want their pound of flesh for the period as it is a house in their zone and time is still ticking on as it does (mainly because they are a council and want to meet their area targets) ... so for them it's TA not occupation that counts .... (or maybe the reverse when the mood suits them). Put these 2 facts together though (usually) - a properly written TA and what normally happens = last day of the month is down to the tenant in council's eyes. However if the council can't get the money off them for any reason they will seek to get it off landlord - hence their terminology of 'setting up accounts in landord's name where possible as that's where the ultimate LIABILITY lies' (I say that may well be all fabricated 'lies' not lies). eg. A student landlord will have the account set up in his/her name with an expemption running back to back (with any small gaps nullifyied - actually that's one thing the council do, do nicely for a change - not often you hear the word council and nice in the same sentence). I digress. But what does this mean - does it mean if an admin error unblocks the exemption or a tenant is found out to be thrown off his/her course - that the landord is liable - who knows - it is a dark art this 'we will seek to cover ourselves from the owner' ... councils/water/power in that order use this line but maybe the darkness is just in the word seek and has no real power. My suspicion is that councils can do, power companies cannot and water companies are somewhere in the middle. Personally I think council tax should only be charged when councils work anyway i.e 10am to 4pm 3.5 days a week. So that's 6/24 x 3.5/7. So that's 7/8 off every bill. Happy Friday to one and all!

20:14 PM, 31st August 2012
About 6 years ago

I also agree with Rodent: The tenancy agreement expires at midnight, so "state of affairs subsisting at the end of the day" is "tenant has posession"; Landlord has posession only at the start of the next day, i.e immetiately aftermidnight.

Mary Latham

5:25 AM, 1st September 2012
About 6 years ago

In fact the keys are the symbol of
Possession. When keys are returned the tenant has surrendered the tenancy in
law. If the tenancy is surrendered before the end of the fixed term the
landlord can, after mitigating his losses, claim rent from the tenant. Where a
tenant collects the keys after the start of the tenancy from choice he would be
liable but if a landlord chose not to give the tenant the keys by the start
date the landlord would be liable.

Council Tax regulations have nothing to
do with the various Housing Acts for example a property is an HMO where there
is more than one tenancy agreement rather than where there are more than two
unrelated people sharing facilities (HMO definition in the HA 2004).

My tenancy agreement states that the tenancy
begins at 15.00 hours on day one and ends at
10.00 on the last day – just like an hotel this gives me time to do my
inventory and minor repairs, cleaning etc before the new tenant moves in. The
new tenant would be liable for the Council Tax because the tenancy began before
midnight. If I have a void I would be
liable from that day.

Many local authorities are now charging
where a property is let to students out of term time – summer holidays – on the
basis that they are not in full time education during this time and therefore
are not exempt. Where the property is let on one AST the students are liable
for this payment but where the property is let on more than one AST the
landlord is liable. In my opinion all local authorities will soon be doing this
because it is a revenue producer and is legal under Council Tax regulation.
Landlords need to consider this when deciding how to set up the tenancy.

10:54 AM, 3rd September 2012
About 6 years ago

Interesting Mary. So if students' courses finish mid June, where the never ending tenancy 'cycle' runs back to back (Aug 1 to 31 July) , if they leave in June and come back to the house for their graduation in last week of August, they are liabale for the last 6 weeks, whereas if they leave keys in June, the landlord is. This (whilst true no doubt?) runs against the simple idea of a property being 'flagged' as exempt and the further safety net for landlords of the council asking - - "Is there a tenancy agreement in place for the people listed under you for this year".
I prefer not to state times as that avoids confusion.

Mary Latham

12:59 PM, 3rd September 2012
About 6 years ago

Gerald In all the years that I have been letting to students this has not been an issue until now and it is only because some authorities are charging once term finishes that it has become a problem. I always let 1st July - 30th June and my problem is going to be with the tenants at the start of the tenancy rather than the end. Unless I have final year students they always want to leave their belongings in my property until their new tenancy begins in another property rather than drag them home with them. I am wondering if this will now change because the LA is charging them council tax until term begins.
In your case you could show the LA that your tenancy is a fixed term until the end of July and see what they decide to do. Time will tell how each authority will play this and also if students will begin to refuse back to back tenancies because of the council tax liability.

14:01 PM, 3rd September 2012
About 6 years ago

Whenever I get bills for these 'stray bits' I ring council up and say ... this is awkward administratively for me because the computer has generated this interim amount but the reality is that it is a 'student house' and there's students booked back in for the year. They usually then say ... oh yes I can see there's an exemption been in place running for a while on this one, sorry about that ... and wipe it out. It seems like some sort of on-going game. I think perhaps when it's under your own name for liability purposes - they get the security of coming to the proper owner if there's any money troubles rather than students elsewhere in the country, world or wherever - which goes hand in hand with the 'doggie biscuit' of the wipe out for assisting in the transparent and singularity management of the account. My experience is that councils are an art not a science....
PS - "where is the key?" - on your key hook with a tick on your pc or secretely selloptaped to the back of a Monet in the property still.
PPS - I think they all use similar charging software now. So there might be more reality than 'game' to the above conversations than first meets the eye.

Maurice Caustick

16:59 PM, 8th January 2014
About 5 years ago

Council Tax Discount.
I have an issue with the local authority over council tax.
The tenant at my one bedroom investment property gave me 4 weeks written notice to quit. Her letter was dated 10th October 2013 making her last day at the house the 6th November.
This tenant is on benefits and the council tax is paid by the local authority.

This local authority under class C council tax discount gives 3 months at 100% non payment of council tax as the property is unoccupied.

I am now finding that the council will only allow 2 months discount because the ex-tenant took up partial residence in her new property on the 10th of October.
My property was still part furnished up to the vacation date of 6th November.

I feel I should get the full discount starting 6th November. The council view it differently and insist that it should run from the 10th October.

So unbeknown to me in reality I only have 2 months to bring the property back to a rentable condition and find a new tenant. Not the expected 3 months.
I am still looking for a tenant.

Any information on how to argue this case with the council will be appreciated.


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