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Nov, 2014

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  1. #1

    Default Tenants Using Council Tax Exemption Period

    This is just a heads-up and I'm aware that each Council is different (locally, North East Lincolnhshire, we are now only able to apply for 30 days exemption from Council tax) but recently, a tenant who was responsible for our property until the 24th April, told the Council he had moved to a new house on 26th March and therefore, as he was no longer living in our property, was able to invoke the 30 day exemption. When he returned the keys to us as expected on 24th April and we applied for the exemption, we were informed by the Council that it had already been utilised by the tenant and we would be liable for payment from the day he left/the exemption ran out, so no free period for us

    This is the second time we have encountered this since the new rules. Although in the above example there is no reason to believe the tenant was telling untruths, the Council don't help things by failing to send their officers out to check properties are vacant and substantially unfurnished.

  2. #2
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    I would tell the council that the tenant was responsible for council tax while he was in possession.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    It's interesting seeing how council's are determining this.

    You can appeal their decision to the Valuation Tribunal. You have 2 months in which to do this (except in exceptional circumstances). It is free with no costs if you lose. Hopefully council's will realise landlords are not a great cash cow after all and 'computer says no' is costing them more in being challenged at tribunals.

    The appeal form is here;
    http://www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk/A1Form.aspx

    Don't forget to appeal the council tax banding if it looks dodgy (most of them were decided on the back of a fag packet in 1991). As the new person responsible for council tax, you have 3 months to appeal. It is free with no costs if you lose.

    Process here;
    https://www.gov.uk/council-tax-appea...enge-your-band

  4. #4
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    I'm glad you posted this as the same thing occurred to me today. My T has the tenancy until mid june but I suspect she has moved out. I got a council tax bill today starting from mid May.I phoned them to day the T was still in the property. Then I realised my mistake and phoned them to 'book' the 30 days from the time the T leaves. The council agreed. I must amend my TA to say that Ts are responsible for council tax without exemptions until the end of the tenancy or something to that effect.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks boletus, I'll look into that.

    @JK0 - The way the Council see it is that they acknowledge the tenant is responsible for the property (just as I am responsible for my own house), but if they move out, for whatever reason and take their furniture out -even before the end of their tenancy- they are entitled to the exemption as the person currently responsible -just as I can get an exemption on my own home if I were to temporarily move elsewhere and substantially empty the place. They are more concerned with the inhabitation/furnishment under the current liable person.

    I have heard of some Councils only allowing one period of exemption in any financial year, luckily North East Lincolnshire are allowing multiple further exemptions providing it's been rented for a minimum of two months (that's still up on the old six week minimum). As they never bother to send officers out to check a tenant has actually left and the property is genuinely empty, I can only think it'll be a matter of time before the 'customers' cotton on to the idea and save themselves a month's tax toward the end of their agreements. Unfortunately the local authority don't want to work with landlords or agents (the few they do actually work with are well-known cowboys) and see us as the bad guys.

  6. #6

    Default

    @Berlingirl - I don't think a Court would allow such a clause as a genuine tenant that has paid up to the end of their agreement but moved their belongings out 30 days early would accordingly be allowed the exemption. As the responsible individual, they are also the entitled individual. I'd lean towards that falling under unfair terms of contract.

  7. #7
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    In view of this, I guess it will be in our interests as landlords not to insist on being paid rent for all the time we are legally entitled to. Far better to let the tenant go mid-month, (and even refund some rent as an incentive for this) than to leave the place pointlessly empty.

  8. #8
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    singlelayer - yes upon reflection I think you're right. I don't think my T will be able to claim after all because the property must be unoccupied and empty of furniture. This particular house isn't as it has a bed, wardrobe and sideboard in it. It also has a washer and fridge. All of which are mine.

    Does anyone know if a washer and fridge count as furniture?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berlingogirl View Post

    Does anyone know if a washer and fridge count as furniture?
    I believe it's only the beds.

  10. #10
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    Thanks JKO, that's what I thought. I've a feeling settees etc count too, or any furniture.

    So the solution is to leave at one piece of furniture in the house. It might be a good idea to furnish the smallest bedroom only, as, for my Ts, usually, this is for the baby who is in a cot at the moment and will soon need a bed, so putting one in can be seen as an advantage to the T.

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