Who is responsible for council tax when a property is abandoned?

Who is responsible for council tax when a property is abandoned?

16:36 PM, 8th July 2013, About 8 years ago 37

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My understanding is that when a tenant abandons a property, they are responsible for the utility bills (gas, water, electric, phone) up until the end of their contract or until a new tenant moves in.

It appears that if you send the utility company a copy of the AST, and in the terms it states that the tenant is responsible for these bills (which include a daily charge!), they will not put the account into the landlords name and it will stay with the tenant.

What about the council tax, especially now that local councils won’t give you an exemption period between tenants?

Personally I am going to try this but would love to hear from anyone who can confirm the position.

John SpeakmanWho is responsible for council tax when a property is abandoned?



Comments

by Ray Davison

19:57 PM, 11th July 2013, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "DC " at "11/07/2013 - 19:28":

Thanks DC, I have read the regulation and it seems (To me as a layman) that if the tenant moves out at any time then he is no longer a resident and the Landlord must pay. This could even happen at month one or two.

Seems to be another case of the tenant does what they want, ignores their liabilities and the Landlord must pay!

by HB Welcome

20:41 PM, 11th July 2013, About 8 years ago

Hierarchy of responsibility for council tax;

6 Persons liable to pay council tax.E+W.(1)The person who is liable to pay council tax in respect of any chargeable dwelling and any day is the person who falls within the first paragraph of subsection (2) below to apply, taking paragraph (a) of that subsection first, paragraph (b) next, and so on. .
(2)A person falls within this subsection in relation to any chargeable dwelling and any day if, on that day— .
(a)he is a resident of the dwelling and has a freehold interest in the whole or any part of it; .
(b)he is such a resident and has a leasehold interest in the whole or any part of the dwelling which is not inferior to another such interest held by another such resident; .
(c)he is both such a resident and a statutory [F1, secure or introductory tenant]of the whole or any part of the dwelling; .
(d)he is such a resident and has a contractual licence to occupy the whole or any part of the dwelling; .
(e)he is such a resident; or .
(f)he is the owner of the dwelling.

Some councils go straight for (f) at the bottom of the list because it is the easy target.
Despite what some councils would like, it is not a list for them to cherry pick.
They do not make the final decision.
Appeal here;

http://www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk/Council_Tax/Appeals_against_Tax_Liability.aspx

If you don't get at least 3 months exemption during voids then appeal every bill at the same place.

by Ray Davison

22:45 PM, 11th July 2013, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "HB Welcome" at "11/07/2013 - 20:41":

In that hierarchy, as soon as no-one is resident (ie when the tenant leaves) then the Landlord is liable for council tax even if the tenancy has not ended - what a blow! So how can you appeal and on what grounds?

by HB Welcome

9:03 AM, 12th July 2013, About 8 years ago

@Ray,
The tenant is responsible until the end of the tenancy.
Just because they are not physically in the property doesn't exempt them.
They can't just post the keys through the letterbox (well, they can but they would still be responsible).
Councils much prefer the easy target landlord and will often try to bluster them into paying.

There is a link to past appeals which deal with this specific scenario.
9 times out of 10 it never gets as far as appeal, once the council realises you can't be bluffed, they will back off.
Grounds for appeal are best based on successful previous appeals (I'll try to dig out a link).

With regards to appealing for voids less than 3 months. This is new territory but councils have come up with their individual decisions for their own bizarre reasons. There is no fairness or consistency.
For instance, why does a person living alone get a discount whereas a property with no one living there has to pay full whack?
Why does a landlord with a property at one end of a road get 6 months exemption and none on a similar property 100 yards away in another councils area?
There are many grounds for appeal, time will tell which ones are successful.
If many landlords appeal (it is free) councils might review their decision.

They have to carry out an annual review anyway.

Government considered giving all empty for sale/to let properties a blanket exemption but decided to leave it up to councils to make a fair decision.

by HB Welcome

9:09 AM, 12th July 2013, About 8 years ago

The link is the one I posted above.
It is under 'listings and decisions'.
It takes a bit of digging to find relevant cases for your individual circumstances but there are plenty in there.

by DC

10:52 AM, 12th July 2013, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "HB Welcome" at "12/07/2013 - 09:09":

Ray is correct in what he says, that the landlord would ultimately be responsible for all council tax payments once the tenant has moved out lock, stock and barrel.

Unfortunately there are important amendments to the 1992 legislation that came into force recently that would preclude any grounds for appeal that HB Welcome refers to.

Under the 2012 amendments a local authority now has the power to give whatever discount it wishes, from nil to 100% and so long as it gives notice of this prior to each new financial year it will apply until amended in any future financial year.

Please read this link:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/17/section/11/prospective

by HB Welcome

13:25 PM, 12th July 2013, About 8 years ago

@DC,

"Ray is correct in what he says, that the landlord would ultimately be responsible for all council tax payments once the tenant has moved out lock, stock and barrel."

If the tenancy has not ended, the tenant is still liable for the council tax.
It is not decided just on when the tenant leaves (which is what Ray asked).

You are quite correct that a local authority now has the power to give whatever discount it wishes. But that does not preclude landlords from appealing -perhaps unsuccessfully, although that has yet to be tested. As I said, this is new territory.

If authorities have to deal with lots of appeals, however unsuccessful, they may be more inclined to adopt a more reasonable policy on their annual review.

by Ray Davison

14:29 PM, 12th July 2013, About 8 years ago

@ HB Welcome
According to the Finance Act the liability test is one of actual residency not of whether or not he has a tenancy and therefore a right of residency. If the tenant leaves mid tenancy and moves somewhere else the property ceases to be his main residence and therefore he is no longer a resident per the criteria in the Finance Act. The tax then falls to the owner. What arguments would you put to the council to argue against that?

by HB Welcome

14:55 PM, 12th July 2013, About 8 years ago

@Ray,

By that logic, if I rent a house in the sticks and also a flat for working in the city, then the landlord has to pay my council tax on one of them.

Anyway, don't take my word for it, read the valuation tribunal decisions.

by Ray Davison

15:05 PM, 12th July 2013, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "HB Welcome" at "12/07/2013 - 14:55":

HB Welcome, I am all for learning and not out for an argument that is why I asked how you would argue your case with the council. The Finance Act states, and I quote:

' “resident”, in relation to any dwelling, means an individual who has attained the age of 18 years and has his sole or main residence in the dwelling.'

So, If he does not qualify under this criteria, then the default for the tax is to the owner as shown in the above hierarchy. It may be in the example you quote that the landlord would be liable. I agree it is not fair but It is not my logic it is as written in the Finance Act.

Have you actually argued one of these cases with the council or taken such a case to Tribunal. If so, what arguments did you use?


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