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!

EldritchCleavage Thu 13-Jun-13 12:54:42

Don't ignore, whatever you do. You may have to go to court to sort it out. I would phone Citizen's Advice for help.

DO NOT ignore it. As a council tax bill, it will not go away. And it moves on very quickly

Citizen's advice is definitely you're best bet, they've always been great with me

MaxPepsi Thu 13-Jun-13 13:03:31

So your share of the bill is £220.25?

Go to the cashiers desk at the court. Speak to them and offer instalments on the amount you are willing to pay - albeit unhappily.

I'm presuming the council tax 'bill' was in your name?

ChipsNEggs Thu 13-Jun-13 13:12:29

I certainly would't ignore it but I would get on to the CAB or similar sharpish.

As far as I understood it exemption means no liability, no liability means you can't be required to pay. I know I didn't appear on our bill at all as ex p was the only person liable.

Did they not get a list of students addresses directly from the Uni? I thought that was the norm nowadays. I never submitted a cert and when I rung up the council they just checked me off the list.

Tiggles Thu 13-Jun-13 13:12:58

We were in a similar situation as students, as we lived with a non-student. Before he moved in we (fortunately) got it in writing that he would pay the entire 75% council tax bill, as all residents are liable if one person is not a student (or doesn't submit their evidence etc). Needless to say he didn't pay it and we started getting letters after leaving the house. His parents got very grumpy with us students that we didn't share the bill out between us, fortunately we had the signed paper and his parents stumped up for him. So yes, you are technically liable even though you handed in your exemption sad

You can't ignore the council tax bill. I second the CAB option.

Once the wheels are in motion with regard to the summons they stop at nothing to get the money, don't delay!

mum23girlys Thu 13-Jun-13 13:16:51

Don't ignore whatever you do. Council tax is one of the worst debts as they do not give up. A similar thing happened to my sister and she ended up having to pay up

livinginwonderland Thu 13-Jun-13 13:18:12

Don't ignore it. My flatmate had a council tax summons after his ex-flatmate scarpered and didn't pay her share of the bills. He got a similar letter with a request to pay about £700 within seven days. He was late and we had bailiffs round the flat the day after the bill was meant to be paid.

Go to CAB and get some help. You'll probably need to go to court, but if they can't find "Harry", you will be responsible as the bill will be in your name.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 13:22:22

Don't ignore it.

You are liable, though. Council tax is payable by the household - they have records of a household which was jointly liable for one non-student's bill.

What a lazy sod your housemate was, though. angry I would be trying to track him down TBH.

diddl Thu 13-Jun-13 13:36:12

From the Gov.UK site-

"Households where everyone’s a full-time student don’t have to pay Council Tax. If you do get a bill, you can apply for an exemption.

To count as a full-time student, your course must:

last at least 1 year
involve at least 21 hours study per week

If you study for a qualification up to A level and you’re under 20, your course must:

last at least 3 months
involve at least 12 hours study per week

You will get a Council Tax bill if there’s someone in your household who’s not a full-time student, but your household might still qualify for a discount"

So how is OP liable?

Scholes34 Thu 13-Jun-13 13:42:30

If students are exempt from Council Tax, why is the OP liable. If 75% of the Council Tax is payable, because one person was not able to prove their status as a student, isn't the unpaid Council Tax his debt, not the debt of those who can show they are exempt.

The main issue here, though, OP is not to ignore the demand.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 13:43:50

Because students are not exempt from council tax. Students are (usually) entitled to provide an exemption certificate, and if there are only students in a house, no-one has to pay. If there is one non-student, the house is classed as single occupancy and the whole household is liable. People are entitled to share out the responsibility as they choose, but the council doesn't do it per person, they do it per household.

QueenStromba Thu 13-Jun-13 13:44:45

I wonder if it's too late to get the university to send an exemption to the council for Harry?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 13-Jun-13 13:44:51

Btw, the OP's tenancy agreement ought to make this clear too - usually there will be a note to explain that tenants are jointly and severally liable for bills including CT.

diddl Thu 13-Jun-13 13:44:52

Just looking at that again it's confusing.

Sounds as if OPs "household" should not even have been billed?

Also if five were living there, why aren't all five being chased for it?

Would OP be liable for someone else's share because the council can't find them?

HotelTangoFoxtrotUniform Thu 13-Jun-13 13:45:27

Speak to your student union too. They may well have experience of this.

Echo the calls not to ignore it.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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 13:54:24

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

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.

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?

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 13:57:13

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

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.

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.

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 13:59:26

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now