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tenancy problems - help!

(20 Posts)
sphinxster Mon 23-Nov-15 15:33:57

Please help... There's been a massive fuck up with our tenant.

We rented our house to a new tenant last year (November 2014), earlier this year we found out the tenant hadn't been paying the council tax after we got letters from a debt collection agency saying the council tax arrears had been passed to them and there was fines etc to pay.
We contacted the tenant who said he'd forgotten about paying council tax and that he'd set up a direct debit to pay the debt and had transferred the council tax into his name... So we trusted him and forgot all about it... More fool us!!
Today I received a text message to say the debt had increased and it was being passed to enforcement officers. I called the debt collection agency and explained the tenant had set up a payment. He had set up a payment but had never actually paid anything. Apparently the debt is ours to pay because the council tax is in our names.
My husband phoned the council and they said as long as we can provide proof we rent our house out the debt will be transferred to tenants name... So, we called our property manager who holds the contract to request it gets sent to the council ASAP BUT they don't have a signed contract in their possession. WTF... They never received a signed copy back from the tenant and there was a massive oversight.
Anyway, we have proof he's been paying us rent (bank statements) and we have the unsigned draft copy of the tenancy agreement.

Can anyone help out here? Are we fucked? Should we just pay the debt and get rid of the tenant ASAP?

Tiggeryoubastard Mon 23-Nov-15 15:38:08

It sounds like you have proof, hopefully they'll accept it. I would get rid of the tenant and the agent though. And i probably dint need to say this, but make sure you notify the council of any changes immediately in future.

Fizrim Mon 23-Nov-15 15:39:45

You should have rung the council yourself to say that the house was being taken over by the tenant - did you not do this the first time they contacted you?

Hopefully the tenancy agreement is in force whether it has been signed or not - I'd be complaining to/about your property manager ASAP on that one!

purpledasies Mon 23-Nov-15 15:39:28

I'm fairly sure your tenant in fact has a tenancy agreement, whether or not there's a piece of paper to prove it. You wouldn't be breaking any laws by renting the house out with a verbal agreement alone. So on that basis, the council ought to accept a copy of your bank statement showing regular rent payments. If the tenant isn't denying that he lives there, they need no further proof from you that you don't.

I don't see any reason to evict the tenant if he's paying you rent. He probably did just forget about council tax as he wouldn't have had any reminders as the council thought you were still liable.

Tiggeryoubastard Mon 23-Nov-15 15:43:40

The tenant did know by a certain point, they set up a payment schedule and didn't pay. And quite honestly, who 'forgets' to pay council tax?

sphinxster Mon 23-Nov-15 15:46:31

Thanks for your messages.

We've been renting our house for 8 years and have had great tenants that have sorted all admin when they've moved in... I guess we got complacent/naive/stupid. I took him at his word and have learnt a valuable life lesson.

We'll get back onto the council and see if they'll accept the regular payments as proof he's our tenant. We also have emails from tenant saying the contract is all in order and he'll sign it, and that he's transferred his name to the council tax.

Tiggeryoubastard Mon 23-Nov-15 15:48:13

So that is definitely dishonesty then. I'd be serving them notice ASAP.

Fizrim Mon 23-Nov-15 15:48:27

Don't you pay council tax somewhere else now, can't you use that as proof of moving?

sphinxster Mon 23-Nov-15 15:51:18

Unfortunately not... We live overseas.

He'll definitely be getting evicted, I just hope we don't have to pay his £1,600 debt.

I feel sick.

purpledasies Mon 23-Nov-15 15:51:37

That doesn't work Fizrim - because if you live in one house, but own another house that's empty (eg between tenants) then you're liable for council tax on both houses.

Tiggeryoubastard Mon 23-Nov-15 15:58:05

Don't worry, you have loads of proof. Just make sure when it's all sorted that nothing is on your credit history concerning this debt. Sometimes things get left on mistakenly. That can be sorted easily.

LIZS Mon 23-Nov-15 16:01:42

Did you amend the electoral roll so can prove you live elsewhere and who the occupants are.

sphinxster Mon 23-Nov-15 16:05:58

We haven't been on the electoral register for that house for 8 years... How do you check if he's on it?

purpledasies Mon 23-Nov-15 16:30:03

Proving you live elsewhere wouldn't help - you're still liable for the council tax on a property that you own, unless it has tenants in it.

You can check the electoral register via your local council, but there's a delay between someone moving in and being on it. They only update it once a year.

sphinxster Mon 23-Nov-15 16:45:23

Thanks for all of the advice.

We've been in touch with the council and they said to send us evidence that he's lived there and hopefully they'll be able to transfer the debt to him.

The fact that he got in touch with the debt collectors to set up a payment scheme doesn't work in his favour!

I'm feeling slightly less sick now.

purpledasies Mon 23-Nov-15 16:50:53

The fact that he got in touch with the debt collectors to set up a payment scheme doesn't work in his favour! - but he's not actually claiming he doesn't live there is he? It sounded from what you posted like a cock up on the part of the council and your letting agent, not a deliberate attempt on the part of your tenant to pretend he's not been living there so that you have to pay his council tax.

If he's admitting he lives there and accepting that it's his debt I don't think you've anything to worry about. They can't chase you for the debt if he's said yes he's been living there for the last 8 months.

sphinxster Mon 23-Nov-15 18:10:11

You're right, purpledasies. I'm just very worried that he will attempt to wangle out of the debt because his behaviour so far has been questionable (not paying). I'm also incredibly pissed off at him and us for getting into this monumental cock up.

purpledasies Mon 23-Nov-15 18:14:23

Well if he's trying to wriggle out of the debt he's been a bit dense in getting in touch with the debt collectors to set up a repayment plan.

He sounds more untogether, rather than a manipulative fraudster. Doesn't appear to have noticed that he didn't have a written tenancy agreement either.

WoodleyPixie Mon 23-Nov-15 18:18:52

You should have notified the council when he moved in.

He's not denied the debt is his. He hadn't paid it yet but he hadn't denied it was his debt. He has also said he will sign the tenancy agreement so it seems harsh to evict him for this. Just get him to take responsibility for the debt and future council tax and get an agent that does ehat they are paid for.

sphinxster Mon 23-Nov-15 18:20:09

Thanks for the rational thoughts.

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