Tag Archives: council tax

Council Tax Liability Order Imposed without my knowledge! Latest Articles

I’d like an opinion on how to proceed please with brief details as follows:

I rent out a property in Swindon, where following the departure of the tenants, the property stood empty for a month. I advised Swindon Borough Council of this in May by telephone and was advised that the Council Tax Account was “Closed”. I therefore thought nothing more about it.

In November, the new tenants (though in residence since end-June) handed me correspondence that was addressed to my company but addressed to the rental property. That correspondence comprised:

1. A letter demanding overdue payment of Council Tax.
2. A Court Summons for non-payment of Council Tax.
3. A Liability Order for Council Tax due plus award of Costs.

Having then spoken/written to Swindon Borough Council and explaining the situation plus emphasizing the fact that they had erroneously sent all correspondence to the wrong address, Swindon Borough Council simply re-issued the Liability Notice to my correct address.

I am obviously aggrieved that I can be summoned and ‘found guilty’ without my knowledge and that Swindon Borough Council still insist on including the Court Costs on an issue that I believe is due to their own ineptitude. They were provided with a correct address in May, yet did not update their records to reflect the content of my telephone call.

For expediency, I would pay the amount required on the Liability Order because I am being threatened with Bailiff action. However, do I have a case to take Swindon Borough Council to court (or Small Claims) to recover the court costs, which I believe to have been inappropriately imposed?

Interested to hear constructive views, thank you.

WolfieCouncil tax bill


Landlords lose the Zero Tariff with the energy companies Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Most savvy landlords will have negotiated with their energy providers, so that in between tenants the tariff automatically reverts to a zero tariff. This was not advertised widely for obvious reasons. It avoids annoying bills for 46p (or even £2.46!) to cover standing charges for a couple of days. It also means that if you are renovating for a couple of weeks you pay just for the energy that you use whilst you are doing that. Some companies overlook small amounts anyway – but not all and in any event it can take an extra ten minutes on the phone whilst organising the changeover of tenants. Landlords lose the Zero Tariff with the energy companies

I have just discovered that two of the providers that I use SWALEC and British Gas are abandoning this tariff, even for landlords, even for short periods, because of the new legislation. If I can find one provider who will continue with this then I will transfer all of my accounts across my whole portfolio, as it is just such a pain. It is not just the money, as the smaller the amount the more irritating it becomes, wasting paper, postage and time etc

I recently put up a BTL property for sale and if this had been in place it would have cost for every week that it was on the market. The other option would have been to cut off all the supplies, leaving the new owner (or tenant if applying it to void periods) to pay a huge re-connection fee.

I think it is disgusting that over the last few years the rules have changed so that we now have to pay for Water Rates, Council Tax and the latest – energy bills – when the place is unoccupied and even, in some cases, uninhabitable. I can’t see that this battle has been fought and it cannot be right. Can it?

Has anyone found a company that will continue to overlook small amounts between tenancies or who will continue with the zero tariff?

If one of them chooses to do this then I think it will be a winner.

Regards

Gilly


£700 per room council tax! Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I am trying to find out when council tax would become payable by the room instead of for the whole property.

I am not getting a clear answer from the valuations agency who keep coming back with it all depends on the layouts and
if its individual tenancies and what the tenancies actually say. council-tax-going-through-the-roof

I would like them to give me examples of both which they appear not to want to do.

If I created studios with their own shower room then a living room come bedroom with a kitchenette in it on separate tenancies.

In addition the studios would all share a utility room consisting of washing machines and tumble dryers and all access to the studios would be doors off the main front door, would they try and charge the council tax per unit?

Many thanks

Kathy


Landlord’s Ripped Off by Council Tax Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Council tax legislation was written with a blinkered approach which only considered property sale and purchase. Consequently in order to avoid shared responsibility on completion day it is determined that an outgoing tax payer should not be liable for their last day which would fall to the ingoing one.

Unfortunately this does not work in the rental sector as AST agreements are never for the same day. So in all cases the last day’s council tax of any rental contract is charged to the landlord/ owner. This is nothing new but has only become an issue this year since most councils have taken up the option they were granted to dispense with any exemptions.
One days council tax may seem a trivial issue, but it is one days council tax for every landlord on every rental property on every tenancy change or termination. Landlord's Ripped Off by Council Tax

Plus what a waste of money for the council to be creating accounts, raising bills and chasing debts for just one day. Obviously if there is a void period between tenancies this will not be the case but landlords will still be ripped off for the extra day.

Regards

Mike


Council tax liability for absconding tenant Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

My local council where I rent out my properties has since April been charging council tax for empty properties as soon as their empty. I have a case where in April [we think] a tenant who was on a periodic TA left. We were not sure that he left and only realised when no rent was forthcoming that he may have gone..Very carefully after nearly 4 weeks of attempting to contact him we took a chance and took possession [END OF June].We waited a few more weeks keeping all his possessions [mainly rubbish and some clothes] in the house. After that we stored his stuff redecorated the house and put it back on the market. A tenant finally moved in last week.

My question is who is responsible for the Council Tax? Will they chase me?or because there was no formal ending of the contract is the tenant liable?I have many cases like this in the past. Council tax liability for absconding tenant

Thanks

PJ


Help me if you can I’m feeling down Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

When I married in 2009 I remortaged my house onto a buy to let to raise a deposit to buy our marital home. The marital home was then completely financed by me, and we are tenants in common. Help me if you can I'm feeling down

My husband had a small house that he had mortgaged to 70% and a housing association owned rest. He had poor credit and was unable to remortgage for buy to let. I had good credit so we decided that rather than he pay for his share of our home we would purchase the entire property and remortgage that onto a buy to let as well to finance our home.

The buy to let is with Nationwide. The letting of the house carried on OK. My husband was out of work and therefore any debts were paid by me. My husband suffers from mental health issues and is prone to irrational decisions.

Recently we had decided to sell up and move to France, this was at the time that our buy to let needed new tenants. On vacating the tenants my husband informed me that he was moving his son, girlfriend and her child into our buy to let. He did this without me seeing the rental agreement or me signing the agreement. He also moved into the house, which I hoped would be temporary until he came to his senses.

His sons girlfriend had been prosecuted by DWP for benefit fraud and they have all accused me of “dobbing them in” and spread this rumour to all the family and friends. My step son is also on benefits, so I know there had to be a tenancy agreement taken to council. The rent is £1,300 monthly and some was paid after a month, and they now have another tenant in there who is yet to contribute rent. My husband has not contributed rent either.

Apart from my husband, they take drugs, work while on benefits and are not bothered about the fact that the house was in arrears with mortgage company which I personally paid off.

Although I have begged my husband to come home and see a doctor, he has not got the courage to tell them to pay up or to tell them to stop taking drugs. The police have been around already because there is a child in house but found nothing. I understand from the previous tenant that neighbours are not happy.

So there is benefit fraud, drugs overcrowding and mental illness in house and I don’t know if my name is on the landlord agreement either. Despite being the lead mortgagee on the property and I am getting no say.

The mortgage we have is for business and I have been informed by the mortgage company that the tenancy is not allowed as family, including my husband, cannot live in the house. Therefore the tenants will have to leave or we need to buy another mortgage. I presume that the mortgage company will find out through council tax records who is living there and inform the benefits department they know tenants are on benefit?

I am worried that the council will not pay an illegal tenancy, so will want their money back and the tenants will stop paying because the money they earn is for drugs.

To top it all I have paid for the house not to be repossessed out of my pocket. Some rent has recently been paid but my husband has taken it all. He will not help pay for any of the housing costs in our home. He does not know yet that the tenancy is illegal and will blame me when it all comes out. He is working but on contract and does not let the tax man know. He is prone to voilence and I am loosing an income here. I cannot afford to pay the mortgage on this house, and the bills whilst they sit in the house defamming me and text me lies.

I have been to the police who are don’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in what’s going on. I have also spoken to my GP and he has advised me not to let my husband in our home as she thinks I’m at risk. I do not want to get my husband into trouble, I just need him to come to his senses. However, he is surrounded by peopel who tell him I was brainwashing him.

What can I do?

I have no money to pay for a solicitor.

In hope on suggestions.

Anonymous


A call to convert 66,000 student HMO’s back to family homes? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

I have been having a catch up on my on-line reading over this weekend and I have just come across an article which, in my opinion is very ill-informed. A call to convert 66,000 student HMO's back to family homes

Housing supply in many UK cities is being restricted by the conversion of family housing to student lets and local tenants are being prices out, according to new research. International real estate adviser Savills estimates that 66,000 properties or Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) now occupied by students could be freed up for conventional family housing through the delivery of more purpose built student accommodation”

The first thing that I would say is that only students want to live near students and the last place I would want to bring up my family is in an area that is highly populated by students.  I love my students tenants but they do not keep regular hours and often return late at night in a happy and noisy mood. There are other issues too but I won’t go into those, most of us who let to students will know what I mean.

For me, the most important point that has been missed is that the cost of converting a family home into a student HMO is colossal and this, coupled with the purchase prices in popular areas, means that landlords have invested a massive amount of money in their properties – will families really want to pay the prices that would cover this investment and also convert the property back to a family home?

In my book “Will You Survive the Mayhem”, I talk about the future of the student market where student numbers are reducing in many areas and there is an oversupply. I have given my predictions of the future of the market and I have warned landlords that we may need a plan “B”.  Plan “B” must, however, take into account that many landlords have big debts on their properties and could not afford to use them for family lets because of the reduced income. There are other markets for which these properties could be used which are realistic and would help to increase supply but Savills are dreaming if they really think that building more purpose built student accommodation is the answer to the shortage of family homes.  They have also overlooked the fact that students can’t wait to get out of “institutional” accommodation and share little houses, at least for their middle year, and there are many empty rooms in purpose build student accommodation in areas where the student population has receded since the increase in University fees.

The article goes on to say

The result is a double whammy for local non student tenants and aspiring home owners. Not only do students price other tenants out of many family housing areas in major UK towns and cities, credit conditions post downturn have favoured landlord investors rather than less equity rich potential owner occupier buyers. ‘Local council coffers would also gain. We calculate that reinstating these student HMOs to homes for non student residents would boost council tax returns by around £1.5 million per town or city, since student only houses are council tax exempt,’ said Savills research analyst, Neal Hudson.”

All local authorities get increased Government funding to cover the cost of Council Tax exemptions for students, the local authority would not be better off if these properties were converted back to family homes, they would in fact be worse off because they would lose the additional “automatic” income and would have to recover it from the families who live there.

The one statement I do agree with in this article is this

“Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning Act proposes restricting new HMO supply which could push students and associated landlord demand into smaller properties, pricing out other occupier and tenant groups.”

I also talked about this in my book because Article 4 Directions are ill-conceived and, in my opinion, will soon sigh and die.

Finally the article says

“For the institutional investor in student housing the UK market offers a mature, counter cyclical investment opportunity”.

Wrong again, I have given a lot of evidence in my book that shows how the student market will continue to recede in all but the Red Brick university areas, many of those are already building campi in the most popular sending countries, and many investors will catch a cold by investing in purpose built student blocks in the next few years.

I am struggling to understand why investors are not being encouraged to put their cash into funds to build more family homes, since we all agree that this is an area of increasing demand and it is very unlikely that the demand will do anything other than grow year on year?

Am I missing something, do Savills know something that I don’t know?

Follow me on Twitter @landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>> http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1484855337


Tenant Referencing Using Common Sense Advice, Latest Articles, Property Investment Strategies, The GOOD Landlords Campaign

Common sense tenant referencing was pretty much the only option available when I first became a landlord and started letting property in the late 1980’s. Tenant Referencing Using Common Sense

In this article I am going to explain what my family do to find the next perfect tenant, right from the day an existing tenant let’s us know that they want to move out. More often than not these days, tenants think they can serve notice with just a phone call, email, facebook or text message – more about that later. Continue reading Tenant Referencing Using Common Sense


Prohibitive Covenant restricts occupancy Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

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! Prohibitive Covenant restricts occupancy

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?

Regards

Mary Kane


Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

The alternatives to Landlord Licensing Schemes require joined up thinking, changes to data sharing protocols within local authorities and revised high level directives and strategies which must begin at Government level. 

Perhaps the first question to ask is what is Landlord Licensing all about? Is it really about raising standards or is it more to do with raising funds?Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes

Funding

If society as a whole desires that people should not be subjected to sub standard housing conditions then society as a whole must pay to enforce this (howsoever that might be done) whether the money is raised at a local level or centrally.

It is both unacceptable and wholly undemocratic that landlords should be singled out by Government, Councils and Local Authorities to pay stealth taxes badged as licensing fees on the pretence that the money will be used to fund enforcement related initiatives.

Costs associated with licensing schemes imposed on landlords are funded through increased rents. Neither landlords nor tenants want this, particularly as there is clear evidence (demonstrated in this article) that landlord licensing schemes have proven not to be an effective solution to problems in the Private Rented Sector.

Recycling of Court awarded penalties

The high costs associated with prosecuting criminal landlords is borne by Local Authorities, however, fines and penalties go to the treasury. If these funds were to be redirected to the prosecuting authorities this would assist funding of additional prosecutions and create incentives to bring more criminal landlords to task. Continue reading Alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes


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