Shelter’s Income and expenditure figures highlighted13:57 PM, 4th February 2019
About 2 weeks ago 35
OK This is a complex one for all you experts out there. I rented a property on an AST contract. The property ‘cottage’ is a relatively large property by UK standards. Separate structure, fully self contained, kitchen, reception room(s) bed(s) bath(s). A superior property with a substantial rent and substantial deposit prepaid!
Let me start by saying I originate from outside of the EU area and am not familiar with UK housing law or relevant LA taxes or restrictions.
Given that…. I entered into the contract with the assumption what was being told to me was true.
The first inkling I had that a problem existed was when I tried to secure phone service to property, only to be told the property did not exist. At every turn I encountered the same problem. I needed to communicate with local council on the issue. That is when they checked their records and informed me the property I was renting was not properly registered and that it had to be valued and banded?? “Not your problem” they said… “you have done nothing wrong… he would have been caught at some point” Confused, I am trying to ascertain what is happening… all the while having to have my bank account, any official correspondence sent to a ‘care of’ address… being that mine did not exist in any database. So many hassles and instances too numerous to recount… suffice to say a huge pain in the a**
The local council advised me to say nothing to landlord/owner and it would get sorted… Not realizing “getting sorted” was creating a tax liability that up until the point of valuation did not exist.
So three months into the tenancy I receive a notice of NEW valuation and a council tax bill? I am informed that all separate self contained residential dwellings are subject to council tax! Aaah but I tell them I was informed mine was part of the larger property and per the landlord fell under the larger umbrella of the property ie: he paid it as it formed part of his property.
Not so they say… rules changed with council tax implementation in the 90’s
The council at this point are contesting the A band rating (rightly so I might add) given the considerable proportions of the property.
I speak with valuation office who inform me the property is rated A because it has a restrictive covenant a section 52 that lowers the value. They inform me the property should have being assessed Council Tax for the past twenty years but it somehow fell through the cracks… I asked what the restrictive covenant was and I was told to get the property file from the planning department.
Well that was sure an eye opener.. too many twists and turns to mention in this already lengthy post.
Bottom line there is a restrictive covenant that this property was allowed to be converted under the strict accordance with the section 52 provision, legal document signed by current owner/landlord. This restrictive covenant still in effect restricts the use of the building to ancillary use and family only occupancy. While for all intents and purpose it a self contained dwelling it is not allowed to be used as such outside of expressed use limitations… (my best explanation without quoting official legal text)
I am not the first ‘private” tenants to be in here, two prior that I know of but apparently they must not have been concerned abut having their services in their own name and registered to the individual property. I have no idea how this went undocumented for so long. It is my understanding that a B&B business was being ran from the overall property in the past!! Also not documented!
The final straw was when the owner presented me an electricity bill to pay on the property! It was listed as a business bill. It encompassed a time frame that I was not yet a tenant. I refused saying I needed more accurate accounting.
During the conversation (that became increasingly hostile on his part) I mentioned my unhappiness that I had been presented with a council tax bill and that was also not part of our agreement and I wished a rent credit for the newly formed liability. Unknown to me the local council and valuation office had failed to notify him of the the valuation and banding. I thought him being the owner (reasonable assumption on my part??) they would have informed him. But no…. I was the bearer of the bad news and now I am paying the price. He insulted me in front of my children calling me names such as “dishonest” and “underhanded” the hypocrisy defies belief!!
The harassment was upped considerably at this point. Actions which definitely fall within the scope of harassment.
These are wealthy people with assumed good standing in the community. The behaviour being displayed towards my family is outrageous.
I am assuming there is some form of illegality with regard to my contract. I am most concerned about my deposit. It is in a scheme but I am thinking the contract is null and void anyway and not sure where this leaves me and my family.
To say our ‘peaceful enjoyment’ of the property has been interrupted is an understatement to say the least.
What I find totally unacceptable is he is not liable for back taxes because the Valuation Agency only became aware of it upon my tenancy. The fact that he expressly ignored a legal requirement and profited from it means nothing. It is only valued an A band rating because of the restrictive covenant but the Valuation Office do not police the covenant, they only factor it in valuation, hence he has benefited from his dishonesty. This property is operated for commercial gain… if in fact he is allowed to flaunt the occupancy restriction surely the property should be valued at its income producing worth?
Many things do not make sense to me. The government is making severe cuts to the vulnerable in this country while an obvious abuse of the system and loss of much needed local revenue goes unchecked.
I in the meantime am in the middle of this mess.
It is an absolute nightmare.
What protections do my family have?
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