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.. to think council should pursue CURRENT tenant for c-tax and not drag me to court??

(86 Posts)
Backt0Black Thu 02-Feb-17 12:50:09

Hoping someone on here can help? I'm getting nowhere with common sense with the council.

In Nov after a long running dispute with the landlord over various legal issues (I'll omit to keep this short, but happy to explain) I left a tenancy 7 months early (was 2.5 yr). I immediately informed council (both properties in same billing area) to pay final bill on old property and to take on bill at new property.

Landlord had re-marketed the property the month previously - hence my need to move quickly. During my move (back and forth with van) landlord entered the property with a band of his workmen and stole around £2000 worth of possessions (not that it matters but I'm heavily pregnant and this was a bit terrifying and can't believe the council are supporting this 'landlord') then returned to change the locks later in the week. So - effectively no access from Nov. (I was happy to hand existing keys to landlord in exchange for a receipt of return as he is quite dodgy)

Out of spite landlord has said to council I should retain the council tax liability until end of tenancy (June!)... despite the fact he has re-let the property to new tenants.

I appealed and wrote to council explaining the changed locks and new tenant and they STILL are holding me liable until June. Despite new tenant and the fact that I am happily paying them on a new property. They and are pushing ahead with court action ... I cant just pay... it's a huge bill - £280 a month on a high band! (will be on SMP soon!)

They have said my only recourse is to write another letter. I dont know what else I can say that there is another tenant in the property and that the landlord changing the locks was implied surrender?

They will no longer discuss verbally and feel like I am doomed to end up in court, never been through anything like this.

Any legal eagles with advice.... anyone been through similar and have takes of success.... or warning?

user892 Thu 02-Feb-17 12:56:47

Regardless of anything else, as you are not the tenant in situ you are not liable for the council tax. They are choosing to believe the landlord over you. Maybe a solicitor could advise and write to the council for you?

The landlord should be sent a formal cease and desist letter - warning of further action being taken against him if he continues to lie to the council. You could also try the police on 101 as his actions could be deemed harassment / malicious.

user892 Thu 02-Feb-17 12:58:07

Or Shelter may be able to advise.

ExplodedCloud Thu 02-Feb-17 13:01:56

Local councillor. Speak to them.

Backt0Black Thu 02-Feb-17 13:04:11

Thanks user. I'm really at a loss, it just seems common sense, but since the council have a name - any name - they are choosing to pursue.

We rang the police about the theft of my possessions - and was told while it was unlawful they wouldn't pursue it, and I would have to look at it as a civil matter. I imagine they will take even less interest in the council tax.

I rang the council today and was just barked over repeatedly 'the liability is correct you need to pay this' and we cannot comment about the letting arrangement shock

I will look at shelter - thank you for the suggestion, I do appreciate it.

Backt0Black Thu 02-Feb-17 13:06:19

{googling local councillor} thanks Exploded.

I just dont know what writing the same letter (content stating there is a new tenant) for them to re-read and re-dismiss is going to do but this is the only option they have left open to me?

Allalonenow Thu 02-Feb-17 13:06:24

There is a website called Nearly Legal Housing Law, with lots of information, you might find some help there.
Also if you have home insurance it often includes a legal advice help line.

Hope all goes well for you, it sounds horrible and frightening.

Lostwithinthehills Thu 02-Feb-17 13:09:15

I think you will need to keep your issues regarding your landlord seperate from your issues regarding your council tax.

I very much doubt the council are chasing you for council tax because your landlord told them to.

Have the council explained why they believe you are liable for council tax on two properties despite you proving that you don't own or reside in one of them?

Why are the council chasing you for council tax from five months in the future? Surely they can only think about taking you to court for non payment in six months time??

Did you report the theft of your goods to the police?

InfiniteSheldon Thu 02-Feb-17 13:10:25

If you signed a tenancy agreement it's a legal form and to break it you need a surrender of tenancy agreement.

YogaDrone Thu 02-Feb-17 13:12:24

There is an order to the hierarchy of who is liable to pay the council tax on a property.

1) occupying freeholder/leaseholder
2) occupying tenant
3) any other occupier
4) if property is unoccupied then person who holds the right to occupy (i.e. a tenant if there is one, otherwise the freeholder/leaseholder)

What is the date period they are charging you for? It should be at occupied rate for the period of your tenancy (2 in the list), and at unoccupied rate after you moved out but while you were still the person with the right to occupy (4 in the list).

I'm not sure if there is case precedence for someone who is highest on the hierarchy of liability but for whom access has been blocked. I suspect not, this is between you and the other party (landlord). However, at the point someone else moved into the property then they become liable as they would be at point 3 in the hierarchy and you are at point 4.

I think it's still old general rates case law that set the legal definition of occupation but it's certainly been tested in court several times. I think it's R vs Laing 1947 (ish!) sorry been a very long time since I read any rating law!

I would make an appointment to speak to the Council Tax Manager and make sure you have your dates and any correspondence with the landlord with you.

Also, if they do not accept that there is a new tenant/occupier you can always claim the empty property exemption which is for 3 months I believe. Presumably you are paying council tax at your new address so can take this bill (and any others you can find) to show the Council Tax Manager.

The only points that are relevant to the council are the dates of the various moves in and out of the property and whether you can prove this. At the moment it seems the council are taking the lazy route of saying that you are the tenancy holder until June and so you are liable until then. You don't need to prove that this tenancy has been ended early, you just need to prove that there is a new occupier there now.

Has this already been to court? They can certainly block further recovery action while they investigate and if they tell you they can't then [they are lying and] I'd suggest you find your local Councillor and take it to them.


Backt0Black Thu 02-Feb-17 13:14:40

Allalonenow - thanks smile I'll take a look.
Lostwithinthehills I'm afraid he did, they sent him a bill from Dec onwards and he wrote to say pursue me.
InfiniteSheldon the landlord will not give one. Despite HIS remarketing property and subsequent re let. My argument is that we are paying the council tax for the new tenant, and that they should be liable as they do live there

FineSally Thu 02-Feb-17 13:14:58

The new tenants are liable, not you.

Do you have any proof of the date of your change of address?

Are you currently paying council tax to the same LA for your new address? Perhaps emphasise this. Unless you are the OWNER you can't be liable for 2 places at once.

Sounds like a bit of a jobs-worth at the council to be honest. Your local councillor should be able to sort this out.

Lostwithinthehills Thu 02-Feb-17 13:16:06

I very much doubt the council are chasing you for council tax because your landlord told them to.

This reads a lot more dismissive than I intended it to. The council won't be chasing you on his way so as a personal favour, he must be providing evidence that you have to counter.

Why did the police say that your landlord taking £2000 of your possessions is a civil dispute?

NotDavidTennant Thu 02-Feb-17 13:17:35

This is probably terrible advice, but in your shoes I'd be tempted to write back stating that as you don't own the property and as you have not been resident in the property since X date you have no liability to pay council tax beyond that date, and that you will not enter into further correspondence with them on the matter. Then leave them to it.

Backt0Black Thu 02-Feb-17 13:17:42

YogaDrone Thank you for taking the time to pen all that, I'm just heading out to a maternity appointment. I'm going to read this properly in the waiting area and will come back. I DID just want to thank you for the reply, I massively appreciate it

MargotMoon Thu 02-Feb-17 13:22:45

Please contact a debt adviser at citizens advice. They will help you challenge it or advise you to take it to the valuation tribunal. There are deadlines though, so hurry!

Backt0Black Thu 02-Feb-17 13:22:46

..... thanks to everyone else. I'll be back, in peril of being late for midwife.... shes even more scary than my council tax bill!

Lostwithinthehills Thu 02-Feb-17 13:22:55

*on his way

Should read 'in this way'.

I'm going to shut up now, even my phone thinks I'm talking nonsense!

Good luck op!

Lostwithinthehills Thu 02-Feb-17 13:24:39

Ffs no no no

'On his say so'

I am absolutely shutting up now.

peeinthepotty Thu 02-Feb-17 13:30:47

So the council are trying to charge council tax twice for one property? You and the new tenant?

Surely that isn't legal

HollywoodStunt Thu 02-Feb-17 13:32:28

Why did the police say that your landlord taking £2000 of your possessions is a civil dispute?

Obv Idk in the OP's case but did see a BBC show last year where a senior police woman was interviewed and admitted that because of all the cuts they're now having to concentrate on terrorism, cyber crime and the increased reporting of sexual abuse. This came up because so many people who had reported burglaries had never got an investigation done

roseshippy Thu 02-Feb-17 13:34:05

Have you sued for the £2k? If not, why not?

specialsubject Thu 02-Feb-17 13:37:12

Tenants are liable to the end of the tenancy , not the vacating date . This has just been proven in a judgement. I've been on the other end of this, when a tenant leaves before the bailff but the property is still not available to the landlord until the bailiff date which ends the tenancy.

Changing locks does not end a tenancy - tenant protection. I can see how you have been caught out by this, legislation intended to protect you has backfired. A landlord does not have to accept a deed of surrender.

But (before mn starts screaming) with a new tenancy in place yours should be deemed ended by common sense. Escalate with the council to find.someone who will actually take the situation in rather than just ticking boxes and minimising work.

user892 Thu 02-Feb-17 13:38:02

If the property was marketed and re-let, might there be a paper trail to prove this? e.g. letting agent or Rightmove screenshot? If you search under 'let agreed' filter the page usually mentions the date the listing was added. Could add weight to your case with the council.

Arsewipe. Rogue landlords are utterly criminal.

Whathaveilost Thu 02-Feb-17 13:40:02

A few years ago I was in a similar position and I phoned my MP and spoke to his secretary who took down all the details. At the beginning of the following week I got a letter in a posh envelope from my MP saying that everything was sorted with the council and I didn't have to do anything else.
I was amazed and the prompt reply and a successful result.

Could that be an option?

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