to think I should be exempt from paying this council tax bill?

(42 Posts)
vinisque Thu 13-Jun-13 12:53:21

In 2011-2012 while a first year at uni I lived in a student house with four other students. Four of us submitted a certificate of exemption to the local council from paying council tax.

One of the students, I will call him Harry, was too lazy to submit his or even go to uni so I and one other ex-housemate are being chased for the council tax.

I have phoned the council to tell them I should be exempt as I was a student while at that address and had submitted my exemption form.

The lady on the phone told me that as Harry had not submitted one a council tax bill discounted at 25% was payable by us as they are unable to find Harry. She told me that I should find Harry and sort it out with him.

Today I have received a court summons and I am expected to pay £881 within 7 days. There is no way I can pay it and I don't think I have done anything wrong

I cannot find Harry, nor can my other ex-housemates.

WIBU to ignore the council tax demands? I'm really stressed out!

HintofBream Thu 13-Jun-13 14:59:41

QuietOldLady is spot on. We had a similar issue with one of our sons, albeit quite a few years ago, the Univerity confirmed his previous status with them and all charges etc were dropped.

ivykaty44 Thu 13-Jun-13 14:41:08

I would do everything you can to show the court that you have done everything correctly and the council are only chasing you for the money as they can't find harry

get the uni to help with this

get copies of the tennacy agreement

can you find out where harry's home town was and try and find his parents?

jacks is right the baliff do not have the right to force entry - but if you deal with this now then you will not have baliffs knocking on the door or the threat of a prison sentence issue by the court

jacks365 Thu 13-Jun-13 14:17:11

While you will be too late to get "harry's" exemption from the council the court themselves have the right to dismiss the claim and to zero it. Try to get a certificate from the uni and speak to Cab about fighting the claim but remember 1 key thing bailiffs for council tax do not have right of forced entry, that means that unless you invite them in initially the can not enter your property . Courts are fair and reasonable and if they see that you reasonably believed all was dealt with correctly they will not enforce the bill on you.

QuietOldLadyWhisperingHush Thu 13-Jun-13 14:11:09

Do get the uni to issue a student status letter to certify that he was a full time student during the year in question. I work at a university and know this can be done for you (even if you have to enquire at several different offices.) The student union can point you in the right direction.

diddl Thu 13-Jun-13 14:02:49

Yes it's this jointly & severally thing that's the bugger, isn't it?

The website says that full time students aren't counted as adults for the purposes of CT.

You'd think therefore that the bill would be solely for Harry, the others having exempted themselves iyswim.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 13-Jun-13 14:01:14

Also, OP are you sure "Harry" was a student?

Cravey Thu 13-Jun-13 14:00:52

Who's name was the tenancy in op ? If it was yours alone then you are liable for this bill I'm afraid. If however it was a shared tenancy then you need to call the council tell them you're part of the bill was covered by benefit and tell them it's up to them to find Harry. They will of course try and wriggle out of that as they would just like the money but they have a legal obligation to sort it out. Do not ignore this as it will escalate very quickly.

ivykaty44 Thu 13-Jun-13 14:00:10

Is the court summons in the other names of the 4 students who did sort out their exemptions?

or just your name?

As other have said do not ignore this - as if you don't sort it out then the baliffs will arrive and if the baliffs arrive you you still don't pay then they will clear out your property and explain to you that if you fail to pay then it can end up in a prison sentence - which is very scary. The balifs will allow you to sort out a payment schedule but by this time the £800 will be £2000. I have watched this happen to someone and though the balifs were very pleasant they have a job to do and explianed it all very carefully and clearly.

ethelb Thu 13-Jun-13 14:00:00

You are not exempt unfortuantly as the household was not. I would pay before it escalates and then issue Harry with a small claims court claim for the total amout plus costs.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 13:59:26

itsall - you can; I did. They wouldn't backdate it very far though, so don't know how good her chances are - but it's not hopeless.

samandi Thu 13-Jun-13 13:59:13

Scholes34 - it's utterly bizarre, isn't it? Presumably he has dropped out of uni if they can't find him, but it's odd that they don't have any other contact details - past addresses, parents' address etc. If he's working surely they could track him via NI number. There must be countless ways.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 13:58:55

scholes - but if the tenancy agreement says they're jointly and severally liable, the council can go after the students for an unpaid bill, can't it? She'd have to argue with them and probably the best way is to demonstrate no CT is owning because Harry is a student, rather than pretending Harry wasn't a student and was more liable than she was.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 13-Jun-13 13:57:43

There's probably not much point in finding Harry, I would guess that one cannot apply for the exemption retrospectively.

Scholes34 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:57:13

A university can issue a student status letter retrospectively if he was a full-time student at the time.

BrianTheMole Thu 13-Jun-13 13:57:08

You are liable. Bloody annoying though. Dont ignore it, get on to the CAB.

Scholes34 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:56:25

Is Harry really so elusive that absolutely no-one in this technical age can find him through the vast amount of social media available at our fingertips?

Scholes34 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:54:25

This is on the NUS web-site:

What if my property is liable for council tax?

If your property isn’t exempt, the council tax must be paid. The amount of council tax applied to properties depends on several bands of charges based on property values in 1991 (2005 in Wales).

The person responsible for paying the bill is usually the person living in the property who has the most interest in that property (eg the owner or person named on the tenancy agreement). If more than one person has equal interest, the liability is jointly and severally shared. However, full-time students are also exempted from liability in this situation.

A property would be liable if, for example, three adults lived there, two of whom were full-time students and one of whom wasn’t. Only the person who isn’t a full-time student is liable to pay the tax.

When there’s only one liable person in the property (as in the example above) they can apply for a 25 per cent discount on the bill, and if their income is low enough they may be able to receive council tax benefit.

The one situation in which a full-time student can be liable is when they have a higher interest in the property but share it with someone who isn’t a student. For example, if you own your property and are a full-time student, but sublet a room to a non-student, the property becomes liable, and because you have the higher interest you’re the liable person.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 13-Jun-13 13:54:24

As far as the council are aware it wasn't a household occupied wholly by students - they aren't clairvoyant!

samandi Thu 13-Jun-13 13:54:14

OP is liable because council tax is jointly owed by everyone at the address. Students are still liable for council tax if they live in a shared address with non-students.

It really sucks, but that's just the way it is unfortunately. You really should have turfed Harry out earlier or made him pay the bill while he lived there.

I would still check it out with CAB though in case there is a way round it.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 13-Jun-13 13:53:01

Don't ignore. Due to your feckless housemate you are correctly liable.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 13:52:37

Oh, yes. It is really shit.

It is just possible their tenancy agreement didn't make them jointly and severally liable, but it'd be really unusual.

diddl Thu 13-Jun-13 13:51:36

Didn't see the "jointly & severally" bit until after I posted.

"Households where everyone’s a full-time student don’t have to pay Council Tax. "-that's pretty clearcut from the Gov.UK website.

Yes, I get that students should have to prove it & it's not up to the council, but if ONE cba, it's pretty shit that the others lose their exemption.

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Thu 13-Jun-13 13:49:14

The OP's house was billed because one person didn't file an exemption, so the CT office doesn't know it's all students. As a household they are then classed as a single occupancy, so 25% discount. How they spread that 75% is up to them, but the CT will just want it paid.

ActionLog Thu 13-Jun-13 13:47:30

If your names are all on the bill then I'm afraid you are all jointly and severally liable. So they can just pursue you if you wanted I'm afraid.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 13:46:31

She could be, diddl, that's how the 'jointly and severally' bit works.

If a student doens't provide an exemption certificate, they would get billed. It's the student's responsibility to provide it, not the council's to ask for it.

Lazy sod who didn't provide it would make me furious. If the university can confirm to the OP that he was a fulltime student during that period, it might well be they'd drop it?

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