If Students don’t provide proof I’ll have to pay Council Tax?

If Students don’t provide proof I’ll have to pay Council Tax?

by Readers Question

Guest Author

9:06 AM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago 24

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I’ve just received a Reminder Notice from Newcastle City Council for the Council Tax (CT) on my student HMO. This is despite me completing the online change of tenancy notice over two months ago.

I called the Council and the gentleman I spoke to (after 32 minutes on hold) was very polite, saying that they need the students to provide proof that they were indeed students. Then he dropped the bombshell that as the property is a licensed HMO, the liability is with the owner.

In other words, if the students don’t provide proof of their education status, then I’ll have to pay the full CT. Providing proof of the tenants’ status is not within my control, so this seems a ludicrous rule. I’m hoping that if this situation comes up they can cross-reference against the Council’s list of students, but if not then I have a significant exposure.

There’s a clause in the contract that says the students are responsible for CT so I guess there’s recourse there, but that could get messy.

Anyone else had a similar experience?


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James Barnes

9:20 AM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

The Council probably don't have a list of students so I'd give up on that idea. During my time at university it was incredibly easy to download and print a proof of student status for exactly this purpose so I would just ask your tenants for this.

paul robinson

11:21 AM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

Doesn’t it depend on type tenancy - if a joint group tenancy landlord has no liability. But if individual, room by room then landlord liable for any HMO is occupiers don’t pay?


11:32 AM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

But surely "proof" is only valid on the day it's provided, people DO drop out you know.

terry sullivan

11:41 AM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

its councils responsibility

Alan Bromley

11:46 AM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

I had this with Portsmouth Council. They said that I was liable if the student did not provide what would be regarded as personally identifiable information. I would try the student accommodation office who should be able to help you if the students are being difficult.

Mr B2L

12:15 PM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

If all tenants in the properties are students then CT is definitely not due. As a landlord, as long as you can provide the following you are good to go. Do NOT let them harass and bully you! I have found councils are becoming a little too big for their boots as of late, especially when it comes to landlords so we must stand up for our rights and not get ripped off!

1. Valid HMO certificate
2. Signed tenancy agreement(s)
3. Which educational institution each tenant is a student at

Nick Faulkner

13:38 PM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

Get real..... this has been the case for several years. The landlord of an HMO is liable for the Council Tax. If you are housing students they should provide you with a Council Tax exemption certificate. If they do not and your tenancy agreements are correctly written they should be liable to you to pay the relevant amount of Council Tax.
If you have not been pressed by the council you have been lucky. We have been in the business of providing student accommodation for over 40 years. In former times if you could prove the house to be a student property they gave us an annual exemption..... but...alas... no longer.
Nowadays Norwich City Council start charging the day the student's course ends. As a matter of principle they issue a full bill for the whole house for the year to us as landlords.
This has forced us to develop procedures to deal with the problem and a reasonable relationship with the council's CT dept.However this does not prevent their computer issuing County court summons while we are disputing some of their claims. We continue and all the summons are eventually withdrawn.
These hassles are tiresome but legally correct. If you cannot cope with them you are in the wrong business and should leave it to the professionals.

Mr B2L

13:46 PM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

@Nick Faulkner has your local council ever done property inspections around this student/HMO/council tax matter? I am not referring to the standard set of inspections surrounding the issuance of an HMO licence but moreso around where liaisons are taking place around CT and students.

Nick Faulkner

14:31 PM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mr B2L at 06/08/2019 - 13:46No...at least none I am, aware of. the properties we own have been student houses or HMOs for several years. The only inspections we have had are in relationship to the registration of the HMOs after the recent changes in legislation .


15:56 PM, 6th August 2019, About 5 years ago

just out of interest many councils now outsource their housing benefit/council tax to 3rd parties, such as Capita, who are much more aggressive in claiming c.tax and dealing with h.benefit. I had this issue about c. tax with community living, which is clients with learning difficulties, sharing a property (usually owed by a social housing organisation) they each have a room BUT share the community areas (kitchen, hall, bathroom etc). First of all it was around the fact that if more than 3 people it had to be registered as an HMO and secondly if one left then c.tax was payble by the owner (housing ass) unless the remaining clients supplied a GP form stating mental impairment (which they all did). We only had all this fuss once the council tuped over their c.tax/h.benefit to a 3rd party.

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