Fighting unfair Council tax on empty properties?

Fighting unfair Council tax on empty properties?

10:10 AM, 31st January 2017, About 5 years ago 28

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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

by terry sullivan

13:17 PM, 1st February 2017, About 5 years ago

appeal to tax commissioners on a point of law--get nla/sla involved?

by Michael Barnes

15:29 PM, 1st February 2017, About 5 years ago

I believe that the intention behind charging for empty properties was to discourage homes being left empty for long periods when there is lack of housing in the area.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

15:52 PM, 1st February 2017, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Lovegrove" at "31/01/2017 - 20:17":

If the property is uninhabitable, you can contact the VOA and ask for it be be removed from Banding. ( I've done this, where property isn't habitable. Its called Hereditament.

by Joel Davis

21:35 PM, 1st February 2017, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes" at "01/02/2017 - 15:29":
"I believe that the intention behind charging for empty properties was to discourage homes being left empty for long periods when there is lack of housing in the area."

That may have been the justification publicised for introducing the policy.

However, in some cases, there is an incentive for the council to use their powers to maximise the number of empty dwellings an an area to increase tax take and minimize the cost of providing services. (No residents, no bins to empty).

by Adrian Alderton

9:52 AM, 2nd February 2017, About 5 years ago

Agree with comments.
The Govt gave LA's the discretion to make council tax charges on empty properties, so now all the LA's have slightly different rules. Up north for example newcastle city will give 1 mth exemption on empty unfurnished property, other local LAs dont.
Another point is that LA's will also chase landlords from the date the tenant actually vacates which can result in additional liability. NLA rep suggests a clause which will convert tenancy to a monthly rolling contractual tenancy to avoid this potential charge. along the lines of - your fixed term your Tenancy will convert into a monthly rolling Contractual Periodic Tenancy, starting on the day after your fixed term ended.

current situation is absurd particularly as councils are supposed to be bringing empty properties back into use. They are strapped for cash and yet again see landlords as an easy target.

by SickOfBeing LiedTo

20:06 PM, 5th February 2017, About 5 years ago

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

May be it is about time ALL stopped paying Council Tax. read below sub-section 2b of section 3 - definition of a Dwelling - the part that says: " in a local or a central non-domestic rating list in force at that time", what do you think NON-Domestic means? surely COMMERCIAL!

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/14/section/3

Extract:

Local Government Finance Act 1992

1992 c. 14 Part I/Chapter I/Chargeable dwellings/Section 3

Meaning of “dwelling".

(1)This section has effect for determining what is a dwelling for the purposes of this Part.

(2)Subject to the following provisions of this section, a dwelling is any property which—

(a)by virtue of the definition of hereditament in section 115(1) of the M1General Rate Act 1967, would have been a hereditament for the purposes of that Act if that Act remained in force; and

(b)is not for the time being shown or required to be shown in a local or a central non-domestic rating list in force at that time; and

(c)is not for the time being exempt from local non-domestic rating for the purposes of Part III of the M2Local Government Finance Act 1988 (“the 1988 Act”);

(3)A hereditament which—

(a)is a composite hereditament for the purposes of Part III of the 1988 Act; and

(b)would still be such a hereditament if paragraphs (b) to (d) of section 66(1) of that Act (domestic property) were omitted,

is also, subject to subsection (6) below, a dwelling for the purposes of this Part.

(4)Subject to subsection (6) below, none of the following property, namely—

(a)a yard, garden, outhouse or other appurtenance belonging to or enjoyed with property used wholly for the purposes of living accommodation; or

(b)a private garage which either has a floor area of not more than 25 square metres or is used wholly or mainly for the accommodation of a private motor vehicle; or

(c)private storage premises used wholly or mainly for the storage of articles of domestic use,

is a dwelling except in so far as it forms part of a larger property which is itself a dwelling by virtue of subsection (2) above.

(5)The Secretary of State may by order provide that in such cases as may be prescribed by or determined under the order—

(a)anything which would (apart from the order) be one dwelling shall be treated as two or more dwellings; and

(b)anything which would (apart from the order) be two or more dwellings shall be treated as one dwelling.

(6)The Secretary of State may by order amend any definition of “dwelling" which is for the time being effective for the purposes of this Part.

by

21:03 PM, 5th February 2017, About 5 years ago

Not sure I get your point on this one

Section 2b clarifies that a property cannot be a dwelling if it is listed as non-domestic - this doesn't just mean commercial properties, it means anything that isn't used for living purposes. If council tax wasn't due as the property was non-domestic then, assuming it was rateable, if would have been added to a business rates list and billed for that instead (at a much higher rate than council tax, generally speaking)

Craig

by Darlington Landlord

22:10 PM, 5th February 2017, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Adrian Alderton" at "02/02/2017 - 09:52":

include a clause in your tenancy agreement which says tenant is liable for coundil tax and utilities up to the end of the notice period/fixed term whether resident or not

by

23:03 PM, 5th February 2017, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Darlington Landlord" at "05/02/2017 - 22:10":

That's works as long as you can can actually recover the monies from the tenant.

Craig

by Darlington Landlord

0:02 AM, 6th February 2017, About 5 years ago

So long as you have the proof the tenant is liable the council does not charge you


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