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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.

Imnotaslimjim Thu 13-Jun-13 12:58:38

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

YouStayClassySanDiego Thu 13-Jun-13 13:16:44

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!

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