Fighting unfair Council tax on empty properties?

by Readers Question

10:10 AM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Fighting unfair Council tax on empty properties?

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Fighting unfair Council tax on empty properties?

I have paid hundreds of pounds in council tax in the last 12 months on empty properties. Mainly between tenants, when the properties have needed extensive work. council tax

My requests for exemptions more than 1 – 3 months have fallen on deaf ears and most recently I had a tenant who asked if he could sign a tenancy surrender after 4 weeks, due to ill health.

I allowed this, but then it took me a further 3 months to find a new tenant. I asked the council if I could have an exemption, but they said no, due to the fact that the tenant had not lived there for a minimum of 6 weeks, so I now have to pay for 3 months council tax on top of lost rent.

I find it incredible that people living alone get a 25% discount for their council tax (because they do not use the services to the same extent as a larger family) but landlords’ empty properties, that do not qualify for exemptions, are charged 100%.

How are the councils justifying this? I have failed to receive a satisfactory answer from them. I email the council about this most recent charge and enquired where it tells landlords on their website about the 6 weeks minimum for a tenants to be living there before a landlord can claim an exemption, as this would be needed for clarity and transparency. I was told that the following:

The information is not detailed on the Council Website but please see below the Council tax ( Exempt Dwellings) (Amendment) order 1993 Regulations and I have highlighted the part regarding the six week rule.

I would welcome any feedback on this and wonder if we can fight these unfair charges. I feel at the very least we should be able to get a 25 – 50% discount if people actually living in properties and using all the councils services are getting a discount.

Kathy



Comments

14:23 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

The original delegated powers to reduce a discount following a Class C exemption were introduced in 2003. The Class C exemption itself was removed in 2012 and solely replaced by the Class C discount with delegated powers to set the amount under the The Council Tax (Prescribed Classes of Dwellings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.

Within the regulations the council are able to set the reduction as they see fit. As long as it stays with the existing regulatory limits then it can not be appealed at a Valuation Tribunal. Unless you could persuade the council to change their policy it would require either the High Court ruling the regulations were not being applied correctly or the a legislative change by central government.

You could ask for a discretionary Section 13A reduction but I'd expect that to be declined.

Craig / LGFA92

KATHY MILLER

17:38 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Yes I to think it is completely unfair , what service do we get?
Just another tax take, the government reduces the money it gives to councils but gives it every power to tax us.
The council tax bills will be increasing to cover many other things to.

Thomas Whitfield

17:56 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Could you say you are living in the property on your own and claim 25% discount?

David Lovegrove

20:17 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

You are lucky if your getting one month plus exemption.
Here in Telford you don't get a days grace for council tax.
On the other hand We have an ex council multi storey block containing around 50 flats which has been empty for several years with no council tax being paid. The block was bought by a developer to transform into luxury flats but is now derelict.
As an individual I would be paying 200% council tax.
He receives a substantial income however ,by all accounts from the radio masks on the roof !

20:34 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Thomas Whitfield" at "31/01/2017 - 17:56":

It would be fraud to claim a reduction to which there is no entitlement - some local authorities are pursuing cases all the way via the courts for similar.

Craig

NW Landlord

8:55 AM, 1st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Tony soprano would be proud of this it's basically extausian

Monty Bodkin

10:56 AM, 1st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "KATHY MILLER" at "31/01/2017 - 17:38":

I'd look at disputing it using the regulation they quoted you (my bold);

"(3) For the purposes of Classes A and C of article 3,

(i)

a dwelling is vacant on any day if on the day it is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished; and
.

(ii)

in considering whether a dwelling has been vacant for a period, any one period, not exceeding six weeks, during which it was not vacant shall be disregarded.”

It is and, not or. Presumably your property was occupied and substantially furnished during the 4 weeks.

You also asked "what service do we get?"

We get a reduced level of council tax services.

Richard U

12:23 PM, 1st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Experiencing this at the moment. I guess the question is - are the taxes designed to pay directly for services I use? I suppose I might need the fire services, and possibly the police, but I don't need waste collection, library use, parks and recreation, social services, schools, streetlighting etc - but then - even when it is occupied - i don't need some of these services, as I and all my tenants are beyond school age and have no kids. As the costs are deductable from profits, at least we won't have to pay some income tax...

12:51 PM, 1st February 2017
About 2 years ago

In respect of council tax any monies paid do not pay for any particular service.

The monies are an income for the council out of which they will provide any services they are required to, to whoever they are required to provide those services to - if a person doesn't use or require the services provided then that doesn't matter on the council tax front. As it stands it's not a system that allows payment only in respect of services used.

Craig

12:54 PM, 1st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Monty Bodkin" at "01/02/2017 - 10:56":

For the ' 6 week period' what it means is that whatever happens within that period does not break any period taken in to account for the discount. To break the period and 'reset' the discount entitlement the period would need to be more than 6 weeks long - for example 6 weeks and 1 day of occupancy or 6 weeks of occupancy and 1 day furnished.

Craig

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