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

by Readers Question

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

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

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

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?


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Comments

HB Welcome

19:04 PM, 28th July 2013
About 8 years ago

@DC
Well done on your result and thanks for the update!
I don't think your council did you any favours though. As I said earlier, they will often bluff and bluster until you come across as serious and that you know your stuff.

@Ray
I've read your 12.10 post three times and still can't get my thick head round it!

I think it still comes back to;

“There is no definition of “sole or main residence” in statute law. “Owner” is either the person holding a material interest who is the freeholder
or a person holding a leasehold interest for the premises granted for a term of six months or more.

Which seems to be the reason DC got a result.

I have appealed a similar case last week to the council. I fully expect to win and for them to give in well before it gets to tribunal.

I've also appealed 4 other cases of landlord liability for void properties under the new rules. I expect to lose them all at tribunal but hope it will make the council seriously consider my points at their annual policy review. I have used different reasons on each case with differing district councils.

I am optimistic of a positive review change with at least one of the councils.

In the unlikely event of getting a result in the interim, I will post the 'winning' answer here.

Ray Davison

20:45 PM, 28th July 2013
About 8 years ago

@HB Welcome
Its difficult to clarify more really. The crux is the council is accepting that my tenant is liable for the tax (Maybe they accept your leaseholder owner argument) and have charged him for it. At the same time however they do not accept that the tenant was occupying the property as he had told them he had left! This 'non-'Occupation' allows them to disallow the early reoccupation discount (100% discount allowed to the landlord if the property is re-occupied within one month of being vacated).

To me its semantics but it allows them to cheat me!

Does this help you understand it?

HB Welcome

1:54 AM, 29th July 2013
About 8 years ago

I think I understand Ray.
Seems to me it keeps coming back to the highlighted phrase that I keep banging on about.
I really think they will back down if you pursue it.
It's free to do so, what have you got to lose?

Ray Davison

8:26 AM, 29th July 2013
About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "HB Welcome" at "29/07/2013 - 01:54":

Do you think so? They have accepted the tenants liability for tax and charged him accordingly. That seems to cover the tax liability. They are arguing that occupation is different from liability to pay and because he had registered as living elsewhere (I was not specific about that earlier) he was not occupying our property even though he was liable for the tax.

HB Welcome

9:54 AM, 29th July 2013
About 8 years ago

@Ray,

Yes, I think you should appeal, it is free and you are in the right IMHO.
In the time we've spent discussing, you could already have done so.
It can all be done online and you don't even need to attend (if it gets that far).
Hit them with the hierarchy of liabilities and the line that I highlighted. If you can find a similar case from the tribunal decisions, you are home and dry.
There are strict timelines in which to appeal;

https://www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals/appeal-a-bill

Don't be surprised if they give in the day before the hearing.

HB Welcome

16:16 PM, 29th July 2013
About 8 years ago

@Ray,
I now fully understand your predicament as I have just had the exact same response to my appeal!

I've asked if they checked the property was unoccupied and unfurnished because I don't believe it was.
- I know full well they won't have checked.
So I'll be appealing on those grounds.

I've also said landlords should be given a reasonable amount of time during voids (only 1 month exemption with this council) but I don't expect to get very far with that.

Any other suggestions welcome.

Gary BTLowner

23:44 PM, 21st February 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "HB Welcome" at "29/07/2013 - 16:16":

I have successfully challenged council tax where I had a 6 month AST and the tenant did a runner after about 6 weeks. That wasn`t really too difficult, but now I have a problem with 2 properties on periodic tenancies where the tenant left with no notice. I intend to say that without a court order to regain possession the tenant is still legally the person with a right to occupy the house, whether or not he is actually living there, and as such he remains the person liable for CT. I`m sure it won`t be easy but I`m fed up with institutions and councils trying to rip off us hard working LL.

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