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Double council tax

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Hi this is not my specific concern but my partner has just been given a council tax bill the is twice the normal value for its band. The basic circs are as follows;

it is her first and only home but she has not been able to live in it since she bought it ( no heating, no water beyond a blocked off feed pipe, no waste pipe (toilet).

She has owned the property for about three months short of two years. She has a modest income and works overtime to cover the bills of the refurbishment. 

How can she not have been eligible for a discounted rate for the first year and why is she now having to pay double the tax? She does and has worked so hard to get her home habitable and now she’s effectly being asked to pay more money that should have allowed her to finish the work and move in over the next few months.

I know there is legislation for councils to reduce the number of unoccupied properties but this pure bloody minded money grab is forcing her to delay moving in sooner!

Surely this can’t be legal and there must be some right to appeal? 
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  • p00hsticksp00hsticks Forumite
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    Jinyuk said:

    She has owned the property for about three months short of two years.

    .....<snip> she’s effectly being asked to pay more money that should have allowed her to finish the work and move in over the next few months.

    If you say that she's able to get it habitable and move in within the next few months (i.e within two years of having purchased it), then I would have thought she could get it reduced back to the normal rate at that point before the higher rate kicks in ?


  • _shel_shel Forumite
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    Jinyuk said:
    Hi this is not my specific concern but my partner has just been given a council tax bill the is twice the normal value for its band. The basic circs are as follows;

    it is her first and only home but she has not been able to live in it since she bought it ( no heating, no water beyond a blocked off feed pipe, no waste pipe (toilet).

    She has owned the property for about three months short of two years. She has a modest income and works overtime to cover the bills of the refurbishment. 

    How can she not have been eligible for a discounted rate for the first year and why is she now having to pay double the tax? She does and has worked so hard to get her home habitable and now she’s effectly being asked to pay more money that should have allowed her to finish the work and move in over the next few months.

    I know there is legislation for councils to reduce the number of unoccupied properties but this pure bloody minded money grab is forcing her to delay moving in sooner!

    Surely this can’t be legal and there must be some right to appeal? 
     
     You kinda answered your own question. Perfectly legal 
    Don't Buy The S*n
  • JinyukJinyuk Forumite
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    That’s the problem p00hsticks the council are saying it’s due now so that in effect takes overtime money away from the work needed 🤷🏻‍♂️

    _shel? Kind of answered my own question? So there is a right to appeal? As I understand the legislation it’s a discretionary penalty they can impose but there appears to be little or no consideration of the individual circumstances. In effect by their own actions they are forcing the property to be kept empty.
  • mwarbymwarby Forumite
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    But if they kept giving discounted, or even standard rate council tax, nobody would ever pay the penalty rate. Thier actions are designed to produce actions, ie you fix it up and occupy it, or you sell it to someone who will, or you pay the penalty rate

    It is perhaps talking to council and demonstarting that plans are in place to make the property habitable quickly
  • JinyukJinyuk Forumite
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    Never been discounted nearby, council don’t discount for unoccupied properties regardless. 

    I’m getting the impression that Councils can do what they want regardless of the actual impact of their actions, in beginning to understand why people don’t work and claim benefits for as much as they can. The system seems scewed against those seeking a o make a home and totally unaccountable.

    cheers anyway 
  • CISCIS Forumite
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    Jinyuk said:
    Never been discounted nearby, council don’t discount for unoccupied properties regardless. 

    I’m getting the impression that Councils can do what they want regardless of the actual impact of their actions, in beginning to understand why people don’t work and claim benefits for as much as they can. The system seems scewed against those seeking a o make a home and totally unaccountable.

    cheers anyway 
    The issue is a matter of legislation & policy rather than local authority choice. As long as the property is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for 2 years or more (regardless of the owner) then it's going to trigger the premium.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • JinyukJinyuk Forumite
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    Thanks for the reply CIS but I can’t help but disagree that it’s an issue with the legislation or policy as the legislation stipulates that the tax “may” be increased and not will. I appreciate that this is a minor point but in the context of legislation wording is key. It is made more frustrating due to the fact that the guidance set by government suggests that legislation should not be used to penalise owners of homes. 

    Those points suggest therefore that a council should not arbitrarily apply the use of the legislation and they have a choice of when they can use it. 

    I am aware of the ombudsman approach but it’s own sites suggests that they can’t be utilised to dispute a charge of council tax, so there appears to be a no apparent right to appeal but if the council aren’t adhering to government guidelines then there should be an approach surely? 


  • JinyukJinyuk Forumite
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    Slightly different query CIS but as you’re ex job could I ask, where a council has decided a policy to set a penalty charge on properties empty for two or more years. Should this policy also be reflected in the policy on empty properties? 

    I only ask because in my partners case they are still reviewing her circumstances but have suggested that her financial situation should not be taken into account. However, interestingly the council has a specific empty houses policy stating that it with engage and encourage owners understanding several possibly factors one of which includes their personal financial situation. It’s also goes on to provide a sample risk assessment they use (in her case she falls into low risk requiring guidance). To be honest the policy reads really well and provides a clear aim, identifies duties the council will undertake and available option etc. Sadly in this case none of it appears to have been followed and the penalty route has been chosen. 

    My thinking is that the penalty of increased council tax as identified due to the property being empty and the existence of the policy would suggest that penalty has been issued in contradiction of the policy. Whilst I know you can’t appeal the level of council tax to the ombudsmen surely this would equate to a breach or policy and can therefore be appealed? 

    You’re probably going to argue they are separate and therefore not, or that it’s not a penalty it’s a discount of 150% 😂
  • edited 9 April at 9:30AM
    CISCIS Forumite
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    edited 9 April at 9:30AM
    Slightly different query CIS but as you’re ex job could I ask, where a council has decided a policy to set a penalty charge on properties empty for two or more years. Should this policy also be reflected in the policy on empty properties?
    I still am to some extent, the difference is I now take cases against councils.
    My thinking is that the penalty of increased council tax as identified due to the property being empty and the existence of the policy would suggest that penalty has been issued in contradiction of the policy. Whilst I know you can’t appeal the level of council tax to the ombudsmen surely this would equate to a breach or policy and can therefore be appealed? 

    You’re probably going to argue they are separate and therefore not, or that it’s not a penalty it’s a discount of 150% 😂
    They are two entirely separate pieces of legislation and there's no requirement to form any link between the two.
    Any policy used to make a determination would need to be take to judicial review.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • GillyattSumnerHouseGillyattSumnerHouse Forumite
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    You have my sympathy, I have the same problem except that the property isn't even capable of being brought back into a habitable state. I am now reluctantly resigned to paying 200% until such time as I can sell the land on which the property stands. 
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