MR WHIP OFF  Councils breaking Laws collecting council tax?

by Readers Question

13:41 PM, 7th December 2016
About 4 years ago

MR WHIP OFF Councils breaking Laws collecting council tax?

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MR WHIP OFF  Councils breaking Laws collecting council tax?

MR WHIP OFF by Disgruntled Landlordwhippy

Councils flaunting and breaking Statutory Laws collecting council tax

I have copied my letter I am sending to Norwich City council regarding the way they view the landlord’s liability. The letter is un-edited so it shows more than you need, the bit you can skip to is the last part on the 2nd page, you should get the gist. You might see there’s a touch of light humour in the earlier parts.

Whatever the legal boffins amounts us might say, don’t be put off by using some of the words as a challenge you never know, it might help you achieve a small victory with similar claims, from my past experience with Norwich I won’t hold my breath. I expect to pay the bill even though I believe it is wrong. Currently it’s not worth going to an unnecessary cost to challenge this. I have been to court many times for other issues, one thing I have learnt is to not take anything for granted, in my opinion it is far less of a risk challenging a small amount, as it helps to keep things in prospective and out of court or there is likely to be far less costs to pay if you do go to court and lose.

I take them up on two issues.
Firstly:- non occupation and liability.
Secondly:-Discounting one person then passing the charge to another.

The problems are many, the crouch of the matter is, the rules of hierarchy that governs who is liable for the council tax, it basically goes to the tenant in occupation, if they are not in occupation the liability falls to the owner. I make the stand that the tenant whether they occupy or not are legal owners and have legal control for the property until such point the tenancy has officially ended by both parties.
Norwich city council told me they class a tenant in a fixed period liable if they did not occupy the property but not tenants in a periodic tenancy liable instead making the landlord liable. they say their solicitors say the statutory laws I quote are just guides! Ha.

I would like to hear how Tessa and other legal boffins view the points I make, and the whether they are of the same opinion in regards to councils solicitor about them not needing to comply to statutory law’s.

Norwich City Council
City hall
Norwich
NR2 1NH
Complaints and Head of Council Tax
Ref: Mr WHIP OFF
5.12.16
Council Tax Bill raised and closed Date of issue 24.11.16 Property ref: 37610000400006

Your actions are out of order, despite the bill you have raised.

As well as other legal rights, a tenant by law holds legal rights of ownership to the property of their contract, rights which are above the landlords, Laws prevent any landlord from attempting to take back ownership or control of a property while a tenancy is in force.

Until any tenancy has been formally mutually surrendered, or ended by the terms of the agreement be they fixed or periodic, or by legal eviction of the tenant or any other persons in the property, control and ownership does not revert back to the landlord.

The control of the property still remains with the tenants, even if they have moved out it does not change the position of the law. Returning the keys to a landlord still does not end a tenant’s legal rights or obligations of contract until the landlord agrees or conditions are met. Until such a point that the tenancy has clearly mutually ended tenants are legally responsible for the council tax.
On this occasion the leaving tenants last day of contract ended on the 4th September, the new tenants contract overlapped the same day commencing on the 4th September. The property was furnished at the time.

You have raised a bill to me to cover the 3rd. the tenant leaving still had a tenancy in force up to and including the 4th. The new tenancy commenced on the 4th there was a continuation of “tenants owners” at no point did I regain my status as owner.

Even with the information you show on your bill, you state that the last day of the leaving tenant ended on and included the 3rd and the new tenant commenced, on and included the 4th . So you know there was no day in-between tenancies, yet you saw fit to bill me in full knowledge that I was not liable and in full knowledge of what parties were liable. Your adoption of the application of billing is not only wrong, your actions are illegal.

In previous correspondence with the council you have said you choose not to apply a charge to the person liable for the last day, That’s nice of you. It does not does not give you any right to make that charge to anyone else.

This is like an ice-cream man I will call him Mr WHIP OFF, he lets the last customer of the day have an ice-cream for free, hurray lovely ice-cream man. Bear with me!
The next day Mr WHIP OFF opens up for business, scribbles out a bill for the ice-cream he gave away the day before, then gives it the first person that walks close enough for him to give it to. What’s this for? Say the passer-by, it’s for the ice-cream I gave away yesterday, say Mr WHIP OFF, “F-OFF”! rightly say the passer-by, No “WHIPP OFF” say MR WHIP OFF, now pay up or I’ll take you to court.

1 of 2
This bill has been issued falsely I do not have any liability to council tax on this occasion. If you had followed the ACTs of Parliament statutory laws of procedure as set out, you would have found this out.

I have made you aware that the actions of your billing is contrary to the STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 1992 No. 613 PART II Regulation.

Because you ignore your duty to ensure the bills are made out to the correct people, and more to the point you are creating and sending bills to people knowing they are NOT liable, you are in breach of fraud and other serious laws too.
I have written to you several times now, your continued ignorance to comply is wearing very thin, while the bills I have received from you are, as in the case here, are often valued little to nothing, this is not really the issue. It is the fact that you raise any bill, or implied false liability before you have gone through the proper procedures, make you guilty of maladministration, you knowingly generate bills to people without knowing that they are liable. Worst still is that you know they are NOT liable. THIS IS MISUSE OF YOUR OFFICE.

Your actions of billing are without due process of proper enquiry your actions are reckless and time wasting, I have kept records to show my dealings with Norwich City Council and this very matter goes back decades, you cannot claim to be unaware of the duty to follow the laws that have been put in place by parliament, for you to follow to ensure bills are not falsely addressed.

If you come back insisting I am liable; I will pay it, only because of the hassle it will cause me to fight this, but take heed, this will not always be the case. Your actions will be recorded, if the LGO get involved evidence of a much wider maladministration and potentially evidence of breach of serious law such as fraud will involve all the staff who have knowingly been part of the process of actioning bill’s to people that they knew could not be liable.

This Mr WHIP OFF rubbish that you discount a person then charge another person who you clearly know is not liable, is absolutely wrong this needs to be addressed forthwith.

For your future records
• A Tenant is by law is the “Owner” whilst their tenancy is if force, whether they choose to occupy the property or not, the tenant has control of the property whilst their tenancy exists. Any tenants’ legal status as an owner with control supersedes their landlord’s liability of council tax.
• My new AST’s. are written to commence at; and end at; 11am on a Sunday at the beginning and end of each tenancy term. Each tenants are legally the owners up to and from those times. Under Council tax law I do not fall liable for council tax in such cases.
• A council is at liberty to discount a person for the last day of their council tax liability, a council acts illegally if it then makes a charge to another person for the same day, fully aware there could be No liability.
• No landlord has control of a property while an AST tenancy is in existence, be it fixed or periodic, no council has any legal right to claim otherwise.
• Just because a tenant moves out, does not end a tenants ownership or control over the property.
• Any landlord that attempts to take back ownership or control of the property without the tenant’s consent or legal judgement, faces serious criminal charges of illegal eviction and harassment, laws governing this are well established, you should already know this.

Chris


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Comments

DC

11:08 AM, 8th December 2016
About 4 years ago

My take on this is that you should specify a fixed period in a new (follow-on) tenancy agreement, otherwise if you merely state that it's a contractual periodic tenancy you would be unable to serve Sec 21 notices as the tenancy is technically open ended.

The new fixed agreement would just need a suitably worded break clause inserting, allowing them to give 1 months notice to terminate the tenancy, thus giving them the reassurance that they are not committing themselves financially whilst in the new follow-on tenancy.

It's a matter for you to decide how long each new tenancy lasts for, bearing in mind the rules governing when you can serve a Sec 21 notice.

Gennie Nash

11:16 AM, 8th December 2016
About 4 years ago

If you issued another 6 month lease, would you not have to uninsure, then pay to reinsure, the deposit? If so, would it not be easier to just pay the odd days to the council?

john lown

12:37 PM, 8th December 2016
About 4 years ago

Interesting and useful comments - thank you.
I have associated query.
We let a 3 bedroom barn conversion to a single professional man through a letting agent. We met him and in the discussion he advised he had a girlfriend who had a dog, and would we mind if she and the dog visited periodically. We agreed to let the home to him and he only signed the AST The agent has confirmed they had the same advice.

The day he moved in it became apparent she also moved in with dog. The tenant then suggested we knew she was to also be resident. We, and the agent did not know. As he was to be the tenant only he was credit checked and referenced. by the agent.

It became apparent she had a large extended family who visited and stayed for many days at a time. Not what we had envisaged. The matter came to a head one Sunday evening when the girlfriend's extended family went up to an amenity garden area and had a rowdy and drunken party. They then got lost returning to the barn conversion at about 2230, and in a drunken and noisy state some of the revelers tried to descend a 20 ft stone wall into the courtyard of another rented home. This disturbed not only some of out tenants but 2 other homes in the hamlet. We gave them notice for end July which was followed by an email with acceptance of wrongdoing and apology.

We extended the notice by 2 weeks at the tenants request in order for him to find alternative accommodation. He and the disfunctional family additions left on August 14 as was agreed having paid the additional 14 days rent. On inspection of the home we found the kitchen counter tops had been ruined by cutting directly onto the surface with a sharp knife. The tenant agreed by email to cover the replacement cost. We removed the hob and sink to facilitate the replacement of the bespoke worktops. It is a high end bespoke kitchen. My view is the damage to the worktops and the removal of hob and sink made the home not able to be let.

The Local Council offer a 1 month concession for an empty property, bu in their wisdom, have apportioned 1./2 to the tenant as he maintained he left it unfurnished for 14 days, and 1/2 to us.

With this information my questions are -
1, We believe the 1 month council concession should remain with us.
2/ We have not been able to re let due to damage and time of year so I am inclined make a County Court claim for my loss of rent to Dec 31 and the Council tax for that period plus the agreed damages for worktops. Situation made more difficult by the now ex tenant refusing to communicate. I could find the ex tenants new address by ' dropping him in it' with his employer.

Comments welcomed please.
Best wishes,
John L

Rod

21:38 PM, 8th December 2016
About 4 years ago

Our council now charge full tax on an empty property whether it's furnished or not! In my view they chase after the owner rather then the tenant as they're more likely to succeed! As usual, the ones at the top make the mess and everyone else has to it clean up. You've guessed it', I dislike councils! I even wrote to the housing minister stating its like throwing a £1000 into the wind for nothing in return, no answer! I've written to Corbyn stating our case, no answer!

Michael Barnes

23:39 PM, 8th December 2016
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "KATHY MILLER" at "08/12/2016 - 10:21":

You do not need to include the word "contractual"; it is contractual because it is in the contract.

The article at https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2016/12/rather-certain-uncertain indicates that you need a clause similar to the following (accepted in the appeal court):

"Whereas the landlord agrees to let the premises known as…..for a term of (6 or 12) months and thereafter continuing on a monthly basis unless terminated by either party under the provisions of Clause 3

The important bit appears to be that the "term" is defined as "X months and thereafter continuing on a monthly basis unless terminated by either party under the provisions of Clause Y"

Sue Twyford

23:49 PM, 8th December 2016
About 4 years ago

Hi John,
On the topic of council tax, the comment has already been made that councils will often take the word of the tenant on when they physically vacated. So, the only way to counteract this is to provide evidence that they were still living in the property (or had their furniture in it) up to 14th August - maybe any dated photographs taken in that period, or get statements from the agent or any contractors who may have been in the property during that time; perhaps even neighbours if they are willing. I had a similar experience of a tenant rehoused by the council, left my property owing a month's rent but still used the place during that time then claimed council tax rebate claiming she had moved out. Fortunately I had dated photos of the state of the place, including her possessions, and corroborative statements from the agent and contractor who'd gone in to resolve water damage during her (unpaid) ghosting tenancy. Faced with the evidence the council reverted the bill for council tax to my ex-tenant. Result.

On the subject of the damage to your property: I assume that you (through your agent) had a deposit from the tenant and that you have retained that against the schedule of damages? That you also had a detailed inventory taken at the start and end of the tenancy which you align with the state of the property? The latter may help should you resort to court action for the cost of actual damage, but would recommend you take legal advice on any likelihood of success for your submission for costs/losses for the post-tenancy period to 31st December - don't hold your breath. An expensive process and you may not be able to catch up with your tenant.
Good luck with the detective work.

MoodyMolls

7:53 AM, 9th December 2016
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sue Twyford" at "08/12/2016 - 23:49":

I had a tenant who left on the 17th Month but told the council the 10th and they took the tenants word over the landlords. I pointed out to them that the anti social person from the council had visited them at the property after the 10th. They still went with the tenants date.

Michael Barnes

11:17 AM, 9th December 2016
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Clint " at "08/12/2016 - 10:41":

If it is a contractual periodic tenancy, then it is a continuation of the original term, NOT a new tenancy (that is how the tenant has an interest of at least 6 months when the tenancy is periodic and becomes liable to council tax until the tenancy is legally ended).

You would need to ask MyDeposits to determine what you need to do at the end of the fixed term for such a tenancy (my guess would be 'nothing', as it is still the same tenancy).
It would be useful if you would post the answer back here.

Michael Barnes

11:43 AM, 9th December 2016
About 4 years ago

regarding the original post, it seems to me that the council is acting properly:

1. The person responsible for CT is, in order (according to Statute), i.e. go down the list until you find one that matches the conditions, then stop:
A. The tenant whilst living there.
B. The tenant whist holding an interest of at least 6 months.
C. The leaseholder of the property (if any)
D. The freeholder of the property.
The landlord comes in at C or D.

2. The person responsible for council tax for any day is the person who satisfies condition 1 at midnight at the end of that day.

3. If the tenancy is statutory-periodic and the tenant has left, then 1A and 1B will fail and the responsibility to pay the council will fall on the landlord.

4. If the tenancy had an initial term of less than 6 months and the tenant vacates during the fixed term, then the responsibility to pay the council may fall on the landlord (I am not a lawyer, and I do not know the law for this case)

5. If the tenancy had an initial term of at least 6 months and is a contractual periodic tenancy, then responsibility to pay the council will fall on the tenant until the tenancy is lawfully ended (case 1B).

6. You should have a term in the agreement teat the tenant is responsible for the council tax up to and including the day on which the tenancy is lawfully ended. You are still responsible to pay the council if the tenant vacates early in a statutory periodic, but you can then claim it back from the tenant.

Clint

13:49 PM, 9th December 2016
About 4 years ago

Hi Michael

Thanks for your post in response to my queries.

I am very concerned that I may use the wrong wording in just replacing "Statutory" with "Contractual". No disrespect to you but are you absolutely sure that is all I would need to do in order to make it a continuation of the fixed term. Perhaps, a solicitor with wide experience of property law would like to comment on this.

I did speak to "MyDeposits" regarding this and was informed that I would have to protect the rest of the term which rolls on as a "Statutory Periodic Tenancy" although, I tried my best to inform the lady at the other end of the phone that there was definitely a difference between a contractual tenancy and a statutory tenancy. She just kept repeating that it was one and the same. I did not want to argue with her so left it at that.

I wonder if anyone else can throw light in this area as the more comments we have the better.
Although, the contractual periodic part of the tenancy may not require to be protected again, I would think when applying for possession it may pose problems with some judges as to how they interpret it.

It would be great if this worked as it would save a lot of time and effort in protecting the deposit again, not paying council tax whilst the tenant is under the contract and even having to inform guarantors of their responsibility on a new contract.

Once again thanks for your response Michael.

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