...to continue trying to fight the system and not pay council tax?

(86 Posts)
WineGoggles Tue 20-Nov-12 17:00:20

Probably (because I could pay the tax from my savings), but I have a bee in my bonnet over this and I don't want to take it lying down. My situation is this (sorry it's long):

My Mum died last year and left me her small bungalow. I'm desperately trying to sell my cottage so I can go and live in it but this is proving difficult. I looked into letting the bungalow but it needs quite a bit of work first and I'd also have to let it for at least 6 months. Fair enough, but if I sell the cottage I then need to find somewhere for me and my dog until the tenant moves out. Letting the cottage just creates a different set of problems and anxieties and is not an option.

Another issue is that the bungalow is a 6 hour round trip away so it's not straightforward to nip there and do renovations. I don't know anyone who can help me or anyone down there who can let tradesmen in on my behalf. It's all down to me to sort out.

So it looks like the option is to stay put, try and sell the cottage while the bungalow remains unoccupied, and I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I wrote to the council back in May to explain the awkward situation I'm in and asked for their advice. I heard nothing so after a couple of weeks and a payment reminder later, I chased them up. The answer was that the relevant department had received my letter and were dealing with it, that they would get back to me in due course. To cut a long story short the council have been terrible; they never mentioned my letter only what the rules are. I tried to reason with them but things escalated and I got a court summons, so at that point I contacted my local MP for help. He said he'd contact the chief executive of the council and get back to me. This was over a month ago and I've not had an answer even though I've chased it up twice now. In the meantime the system hasn't stopped and I've now received a "notice of liability order" from the council. I called the council and they simply didn't give a shit until I mentioned I'd got my MP involved and then they got a little helpful saying I could defer payment until the sale of my cottage provided my solicitor wrote to them. (I'm now waiting for the solicitors to call me back tomorrow as they were in meetings today...tsk!).

I am now in the position where I have owed 90% council tax on the bungalow since April/May 2012. If I lived there I would get a single person discount and only have to pay 75%. Obviously I have no idea how long it would take my cottage to sell - it could be next week, it could be another 2 years - which makes it harder to arrange or plan anything.

I know IBU because I could put up and shut up and simply pay up, but I don't think it's right. The bee in my bonnet is three-fold;
1. The council do not treat people and their circumstances as individual cases and do not use any discretion. They have a"these are the rules so tough" mentality until you bring in the bigger guns.

2. I appreciate councils do not want properties empty but I also don't think they should charge so much council tax when it's a situation like mine. It's not as though I'm using any of their facilities or I'm a career landlord. Although I consider myself very lucky to have inherited a home I didn't want my beloved mother to die prematurely...[resists urge to waffle on and it turn into a "it's not fair" tantrum].

3. When we take into account that many multi million/billion pound companies - such as Vodaphone, Starbucks, Boots, Tesco - are getting out of paying their share of tax to the UK, it seems even more unfair that they make sure us plebs don't get away with avoiding a penny. I can really see where the suffragettes were coming from.

OTheHugeManatee Tue 20-Nov-12 17:04:18

YABU. You own a property, you pay council tax on it at the appropriate rate unless it's let to someone else.

What's so special about you that the council should rewrite all the rules just because you don't like them?

OTheHugeManatee Tue 20-Nov-12 17:05:40

And WTF have the suffragettes got to do with anything? They were campaigning for the vote for women, not for council tax reductions on second properties confused

DragonMamma Tue 20-Nov-12 17:08:08

YknowUABU but council tax is one of my pet hates so I see why you have a bee in your bonnet.

Our council let you get away with not paying council tax on an unoccupied property if there's no furniture there. Is this an option for you? just shove it all in the attic

Oh dear, the suffragettes comment was ill-judged. People died for your right to vote, please don't belittle their sacrifice.

On the question of the CT, if someone had written an AIBU a year ago saying that they didn't think people should pay CT on a second home, what would you have said? It seems reasonable to pay for both homes. I know your situation is difficult.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 20-Nov-12 17:10:05

You own 2 houses and yet expect to be given special consideration! It's not even a case of 'cant pay' just 'won't pay'.
and then you come on here whinging to us and looking for sympathy? Why exactly do you think WE should be subsidising you?
PAY UP

INeedALieIn Tue 20-Nov-12 17:10:38

It is not so difficult to sell a property. Drop the price or auction.

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 20-Nov-12 17:13:56

You should not have written a letter.
You should have called & asked for an occupied form, & filled that in.

Is it unfurnished & unoccupied?

If yes, class c would have got you 6 months exemption.

Does it have a toilet? Or a kitchen?

If no, class a would have got you a 6 month exemption.

Try & see if you can get the exemption retrospectively applied.

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 20-Nov-12 17:15:30

unoccupied form

Unless you've already used up your exemption before May. If you've already had a 6 month exemption you can't have it again.

NatashaBee Tue 20-Nov-12 17:16:36

good advice from ISeeSmallPeople. You seem to be getting very hung up on what other people are doing, but the fact is that Starbucks was not the one who was left a small cottage on which they have to pay council tax, so that situation is nothing like yours.

Why can't you rent out either one of the properties? If there is work required on either one, then you may have to compromise on the amount of rent you receive, but surely that's better than accruing more council tax arrears.

avivabeaver Tue 20-Nov-12 17:22:26

how is the council supposed to take into account individual circumstances? they have rules, pretty simple ones really so that EVERYONE IS TREATED THE SAME.

that is fair. I have had a substantial drop in income in the last year- do i expect the council to cut me some slack? No, because they rules and rightly stick to them.

this is a minor inconvenience in selling one property and moving into another mortgage free at some stage. You have savings to cover it. It is not fair that your DM died (and no doubt you would give up the house in a heartbeat to have her back) but you are confusing the issues.

It is a tax on owning property - you own the property so you owe the tax.

Owning property is not onerous - if you sold or auctioned it you would still have had free money from inheritance and not owed any.

If you want to keep it to live in then you have to expect their is a financial cost of that.

And I'm pissed off that you think it's ok to waste politicians time and chief execs time when there are people with more difficult problems than suddenly owning a FREE second house angry

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Tue 20-Nov-12 17:31:30

YABVU. I had the same problem when I moved in with DH and took over a year to sell my last property.

1. Them's the breaks - your situation isn't that special and the councils still has to budget for services to your place
2. See 1.
3. The suffragettes would have directed you straight to the grip shop. And the council doesn't get any bunce from Vodafone...

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 20-Nov-12 17:32:48

She is eligible for a 6 month exemption. Same as everyone else. Landlords too smile
But if you don't apply for the right thing you don't get it.
Expect a site visit to verify unoccupied, unfurnished or
But you can only get it once, and if a previous owner used all of it within a set timescale that I don't know off the top of my head you can't have it.

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 20-Nov-12 17:33:10

Or kitchenless

shrimponastick Tue 20-Nov-12 17:35:22

My DPs own a house here, and a house at the coast. They live in one Mon to Fri and go to the coast every Fri eve until Sunday eve.

They have to pay two sets of council tax.?

It's not a personal tax, it is property.

PhallicGiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 17:36:24

Sorry, but YABU. I got a years excemption from paying council tax as a property I was renovating was empty. You have to follow the rules the council make, and pay your council tax when you should. If you can't get an exemption then pay up!

Whoknowswhocares Tue 20-Nov-12 17:43:03

Addressing your gripes one by one

1 let's pretend the council did look on things case by case. You own 2 properties, you have savings so will not be caused short term hardship so there would be no reason for them to let you off
2 the total costs of the council are divided by the number of houses. It does not matter if no one lives there, the owner still owes their portion of the costs
3 however abhorrent, Starbucks et al are obeying the law (crap law admittedly but even so) You are attempting to ignore the law

the suffragettes would laugh in your face

Viviennemary Tue 20-Nov-12 17:47:48

Well I'm afraid that is the rule re council tax. Most councils give a few months after a death before tax is due. But if you own two houses the house you don't live in is counted as your second home whether it is or not. But if the house is empty of furniture and is being renovated sometimes this can mean no council tax due for a certain period.

scarletforya Tue 20-Nov-12 17:50:10

YABVU

I bet they laughed their tits off it was a fun day at the office when they got your letter.

You've fallen into the mistaken belief that your circumstances are exceptional. They're not. Owning two houses is hassle.

"The council do not treat people and their circumstances as individual cases"

Well, no, of course they don't. They have hundreds of thousands of houses to claim tax on. They can't look at each one and say 'oh dear, they've had a hard time let's not charge them tax this month'.

ISeeSmallPeople Tue 20-Nov-12 18:00:12

I have heard some people ask the council if they can have a discount as they are on holiday, so feel they shouldn't pay

Sabriel Tue 20-Nov-12 18:01:01

We moved away for work and had to rent a place here while still owning a house elsewhere. For a while I lived here and DH lived there and we had to pay 2 lots of council tax. Then he moved up with me and we still had to pay 2 lots of council tax for the whole year it took to sell. So we weren't living there and weren't using any facilities in our old town but still had to pay.

YANBU to think it is unfair (I certainly did) but YABVU to think you are a special case and refuse to pay.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 20-Nov-12 18:07:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FairPhyllis Tue 20-Nov-12 18:14:08

My parents are struggling to sell my grandmother's house after she died, despite dropping and dropping the price. They now have to pay council tax on it. Oh and they live 5 hours away from it so it's hard for them to be on the scene regularly. It's not an unusual situation and you will just have to suck it up like everyone else. You are not special.

Do the insurance company know the building is unoccupied?

WTF do the suffragettes have to do with it?

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