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    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 12th Sep 17, 4:00 PM
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    Irish_lad80
    Historic Council Tax Issue
    • #1
    • 12th Sep 17, 4:00 PM
    Historic Council Tax Issue 12th Sep 17 at 4:00 PM
    Hi, friend has just got back from holidays and received some letters in the post in relation to non payment of council tax in the years 2006/7. The first set of letters were addressed to the 4 tenants in the house (but sent to my friends new address) and stated that there was nearly £1,000 of tax owed from the two periods (2006/2007). My friend hasn't been in contact with the 3 other tenants since she moved out in 2007 but has been living and been paying council tax in SE London since that time. Another set of letters were sent 10 days later stating that she had 14 days to pay up the full amount or provide her work details so it could be taken from her salary or else she would be charged more money and bailiffs would be called . This time the letters were only addressed to her. My friend is adamant that she paid her share in full at the time and to be fair she is a stickler for these things so I believe her but being 10/11 years ago she has no evidence of the payments (who keeps receipts that long). Given she no longer has contact details for those in the house, (lost the phone with their numbers) can she still be held liable for their share? Will the council still look for the other people or now they have one person will they just say tough luck and squeeze her for the total amount?
    Thanks in advance and any advice much appreciated.
    This is my first post so hope I haven't made any errors.
Page 4
    • Slithery
    • By Slithery 13th Sep 17, 3:49 PM
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    Slithery
    Your getting too hung up on arguing all of the little details that don't matter at all to this case.

    Fact - Your friend has joint and several responsibility for the entire bill.

    Fact - They've found your friend so are legally pursuing her for all outstanding costs.

    Fact - She either has to pay up now or the debt will be recovered from her wages.

    Whether this is 'fair' or not is irrelevant, the legal position is clear.
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 13th Sep 17, 3:57 PM
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    00ec25
    and I'll add one more

    Fact - your friend lived as a single household with 3 other people on a joint tenancy. The law therefore not unreasonably sees them as "one", not as four individuals.

    The reality that 4 adults did not manage their financial affairs between themselves so that shared bills were genuinely shared and paid is neither the fault of the council nor an unfair outcome of the law. Thus the council acts in the most efficient and cost effective manner by chasing the "one" that it has found.
    Last edited by 00ec25; 13-09-2017 at 4:00 PM.
    • konark
    • By konark 13th Sep 17, 8:11 PM
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    konark
    It is to avoid situations like this that in a HMO the landlord is usually responsible for the council tax,; having 4 strangers each responsible for a quarter each is simply a recipe for disaster. If each pays direct to the council and one stops paying (and you wouldn't know that till it was too late) the others are liable for their share.
    • CIS
    • By CIS 13th Sep 17, 8:55 PM
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    CIS
    It is to avoid situations like this that in a HMO the landlord is usually responsible for the council tax,; having 4 strangers each responsible for a quarter each is simply a recipe for disaster. If each pays direct to the council and one stops paying (and you wouldn't know that till it was too late) the others are liable for their share.
    Originally posted by konark
    If it's a council tax HMO then landlord is always liable - it certainly makes collection much easier in those cases.
    having 4 strangers each responsible for a quarter each is simply a recipe for disaster. If each pays direct to the council and one stops paying (and you wouldn't know that till it was too late) the others are liable for their share
    It can go badly wrong where tenants try to apportion the charge amongst themselves, I've seen some messy situations left by it. This is one of the reasons why joint liability occurs, to try and minimise the collection issues for the council.

    Craig
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery as I'm now a self employed Council Tax advisor and consultant with my own Council Tax consultancy business. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • decbel
    • By decbel 13th Sep 17, 11:38 PM
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    decbel
    And I don't think we know that the council hasn't also contacted the others.
    Originally posted by davidmcn
    I'd certainly be asking.

    Whether I'd get anywhere is a different matter.
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 9:42 AM
    • 27 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Irish_lad80
    Your getting too hung up on arguing all of the little details that don't matter at all to this case.

    Fact - Your friend has joint and several responsibility for the entire bill.

    Fact - They've found your friend so are legally pursuing her for all outstanding costs.

    Fact - She either has to pay up now or the debt will be recovered from her wages.

    Whether this is 'fair' or not is irrelevant, the legal position is clear.
    Originally posted by Slithery
    To paraphrase a common quote "Devil is in the little details". Or as she is renting she moves house again and hope they find one of the other poor sods first! Not suggesting she do that, but it is a third option.
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 9:59 AM
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    Irish_lad80
    and I'll add one more

    Fact - your friend lived as a single household with 3 other people on a joint tenancy. The law therefore not unreasonably sees them as "one", not as four individuals.

    The reality that 4 adults did not manage their financial affairs between themselves so that shared bills were genuinely shared and paid is neither the fault of the council nor an unfair outcome of the law. Thus the council acts in the most efficient and cost effective manner by chasing the "one" that it has found.
    Originally posted by 00ec25
    4 adults were listed on the on the letters unlike a gas bill for example where one person is normally listed and others reimburse them. To me that is the main difference and hence why I asked the questions in the first place.
    There may well not be an alternative but to pay the full outstanding liability for the house. However there is no harm in asking for advice. The council are aware that there are 4 people listed but they have chosen the easy target. Laws are often there to ensure fairness. To most people I think the soft target being bullied into paying a 10 year old bill because the council don't want to chase the others listed on the statement is hardly fairness. But then as another phrase goes common sense is not very common.


    Also she didn't know that there was a shortfall in the amount owing until this Sunday. So to her knowledge the financial affairs where being managed correctly, she received no letters to say otherwise.
    Last edited by Irish_lad80; 14-09-2017 at 10:01 AM.
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 10:03 AM
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    Irish_lad80
    If it's a council tax HMO then landlord is always liable - it certainly makes collection much easier in those cases.

    It can go badly wrong where tenants try to apportion the charge amongst themselves, I've seen some messy situations left by it. This is one of the reasons why joint liability occurs, to try and minimise the collection issues for the council.

    Craig
    Originally posted by CIS

    Maybe that should become law, all houses rented out with more than one bedroom are to be classified as HMO, would make it cleaner for all involved and rent would increase by the amount of tax, put a little hassle on the Landlord but no extra financial stress.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 14th Sep 17, 10:11 AM
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    AdrianC
    4 adults were listed on the on the letters unlike a gas bill for example where one person is normally listed and others reimburse them. To me that is the main difference and hence why I asked the questions in the first place.
    There may well not be an alternative but to pay the full outstanding liability for the house.
    Originally posted by Irish_lad80
    Four people are listed, because four people are listed on the electoral roll for the property. All of those people are jointly and severally liable for the entire bill. How, or even whether, they apportion the bill between them is not the local authority's problem.
    • molerat
    • By molerat 14th Sep 17, 10:11 AM
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    molerat
    Maybe that should become law, all houses rented out with more than one bedroom are to be classified as HMO, would make it cleaner for all involved and rent would increase by the amount of tax, put a little hassle on the Landlord but no extra financial stress.
    Originally posted by Irish_lad80
    And when the tenants fail to pay the rent and do a runner the LL gets stiffed for the council tax as well
    www.helpforheroes.org.uk/donations.html
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 14th Sep 17, 10:15 AM
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    AdrianC
    Maybe that should become law, all houses rented out with more than one bedroom are to be classified as HMO
    Originally posted by Irish_lad80
    ...?

    Seriously?

    A two-bed flat rented out to a single tenant... should be an HMO? That makes a mockery of the whole point of flagging genuine HMOs.
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 12:38 PM
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    Irish_lad80
    And when the tenants fail to pay the rent and do a runner the LL gets stiffed for the council tax as well
    Originally posted by molerat
    Landlord does have the deposit so that would cover the council tax especially as a lot of places look for more than the months rent as deposit.
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 12:40 PM
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    Irish_lad80
    ...?

    Seriously?

    A two-bed flat rented out to a single tenant... should be an HMO? That makes a mockery of the whole point of flagging genuine HMOs.
    Originally posted by AdrianC

    In that case you inform the council that it is single occupancy, then it's adjusted accordingly. It should be simple to do.
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 12:48 PM
    • 27 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Irish_lad80
    Four people are listed, because four people are listed on the electoral roll for the property. All of those people are jointly and severally liable for the entire bill. How, or even whether, they apportion the bill between them is not the local authority's problem.
    Originally posted by AdrianC

    Not disputing that they are liable for the amount, it's the once they find one person listed then just chasing them for the bill threatening with extra fines etc and ignoring the others (if that is indeed what has happened and the haven't contacted the others) that gets me and seems the school yard bully stuff. Especially given the very short time frame to pay up after 10 years.
    • molerat
    • By molerat 14th Sep 17, 1:06 PM
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    molerat
    Landlord does have the deposit so that would cover the council tax especially as a lot of places look for more than the months rent as deposit.
    Originally posted by Irish_lad80
    Have you not watched the various bailiff / landlord porn shows on TV where the tenant does a bunk owing £Ks, way in excess of any deposit.
    www.helpforheroes.org.uk/donations.html
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 1:15 PM
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    Irish_lad80
    Have you not watched the various bailiff / landlord porn shows on TV where the tenant does a bunk owing £Ks, way in excess of any deposit.
    Originally posted by molerat

    Haha no I haven't, didn't know those shows existed. I know it will happen on occasion (happened to a brother, but he wrote it off a risk to the investment which will happen from time to time, dropped his rental yield for the year but over the longer medium term it mattered little) but if a landlord gets references, from both work and prior landlords this will surely reduce the risk.
    • CIS
    • By CIS 14th Sep 17, 2:28 PM
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    CIS
    ...?

    Seriously?

    A two-bed flat rented out to a single tenant... should be an HMO? That makes a mockery of the whole point of flagging genuine HMOs.
    Originally posted by AdrianC
    Technically for council tax purposes a property like that could be a council tax HMO. It's unusual to see but it's not unknown, it depends on the terms of the rental.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery as I'm now a self employed Council Tax advisor and consultant with my own Council Tax consultancy business. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 14th Sep 17, 2:31 PM
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    AdrianC
    Not disputing that they are liable for the amount, it's the once they find one person listed then just chasing them for the bill threatening with extra fines etc and ignoring the others (if that is indeed what has happened and the haven't contacted the others) that gets me and seems the school yard bully stuff.
    Originally posted by Irish_lad80
    Let's say a group of four people owe YOU money. They unequivocally owe it you with joint and several liability.

    You go after that money. You find one of the people easily. You can't find the other three similarly easily.

    What would YOU do?
    • Irish_lad80
    • By Irish_lad80 14th Sep 17, 3:19 PM
    • 27 Posts
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    Irish_lad80
    Let's say a group of four people owe YOU money. They unequivocally owe it you with joint and several liability.

    You go after that money. You find one of the people easily. You can't find the other three similarly easily.

    What would YOU do?
    Originally posted by AdrianC
    Firstly I'd keep looking for the other three and not just give up when I find one person (maybe I have too much common decency). On a debt of this age I would then also look at the tenants payment history in houses since this time (assuming I have access to their council tax history) to get a picture of their payment history. If it's spotty at best then I may well look for more than a quarter of the amount from that one person. I would also give them more than two weeks to try and unearth any documentation that they may have, get old bank statements and provide the statement history that I have on the property. But I don't think I would rush to get everything off the one person, but that's just me.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 14th Sep 17, 3:48 PM
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    AdrianC
    But I don't think I would rush to get everything off the one person
    Originally posted by Irish_lad80
    But they owe you the full amount...
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