Council Tax - history of payment or not?

Hi. My mother has just moved into a residential care home and out of a house I own and bought for her to live in some 17 years ago.  Up until recently she has managed all her own finances independently, albeit living on just a state pension.  She hasn't paid me any rent, as I wanted to support her as much as possible.  While I've had to insure the property with a Landlord's insurance policy, I think she'd fall into a 'licensee' caterogy as she has been there with my permission.

As my mother's not going to be living there permenantly anymore I'm about to notify the Local Coucil and transfer the Coucil Tax payment into my name. 

However, having recently taken over helping her with finances, I can't see any debits from her sole bank account, to pay coucil tax! Is it credible she either pays directly through DWP, or was judged to not have to pay? She's not currently in a mental state in which I could ask her about the coucil tax history.

 I'm now really worried that she hasn't been paying council tax!  Is that credible?  The property has a local authorty reference number, so presumedly someone in the coucil would have noticed if no payment was being made - or would they?  Also, the previous owner likely paid coucil tax, so the Local Authority (LA) would have been aware of the change of resident.

Obviously, the simplest way to find out is to ask the LA directly, but before then I want to try and ascertain what might have happened, or whether I've missed something from her records, and how best to proceed if it's 'bad' news.

Any advice please.
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Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,959 Forumite
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    Lots of people don't pay CT for various reasons.  Is it possible she didn't have to pay due to disability or benefits she received?  Alternatively she may owe a substantial amount of arrears - there are ways to deal with that but you'll need to find out what the situation is first.  Do you have POA or similar to ask questions on her behalf? 
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,629 Forumite
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    How far back do her bank statements go? Even if she was judged to not have to pay (severe mental impairment for example) there should be some evidence of a bill, unless she has destroyed them all. Are you absolutely sure she has only one bank/building society a/c? Could she have paid by cash? It is very difficult to believe she has not paid CT for 17 years.


    So, you are worrying that CT hasn't been paid for 17 years? The good news is that it is not your problem. Whether she was a licensee or tenant, is unimportant, your mother was the occupier and thus was the liable person. If no CT was paid when it should have been, all the council can try and do is claim it back from her savings.


    However unless you have Power of Attorney the council will not discuss her CT payments with you.
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,959 Forumite
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    Here's a thought.....call (or write to) the council and say you don't want any information but your mom needs an up to date statement regarding her CT and could they please send it to the address they have on their files?  That way they might post a notice of arrears or  a statement about how she is exempt.  Or you might have someone exclaim something useful while you're on the phone with them.  Obviously if you don't have any POA or alternative you could write a letter from your mom asking for the information and hopefully get her to sign it.  My MiL would sign things (badly) when asked nicely.  (never done for fraudulent purposes - birthday cards etc mostly)
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,629 Forumite
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    Brie said:
    Here's a thought.....call (or write to) the council and say you don't want any information but your mom needs an up to date statement regarding her CT and could they please send it to the address they have on their files?  That way they might post a notice of arrears or  a statement about how she is exempt.  Or you might have someone exclaim something useful while you're on the phone with them.  Obviously if you don't have any POA or alternative you could write a letter from your mom asking for the information and hopefully get her to sign it.  My MiL would sign things (badly) when asked nicely.  (never done for fraudulent purposes - birthday cards etc mostly)
    That may work if the council are unaware OP's mother has gone into care or are unaware she lacks mental capacity.
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Harry227
    Harry227 Posts: 23 Forumite
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    Thank you for all of your helpful replies.

    My mother had been relatively healthy up until about 4 years ago, and then received care at home, initially she paid for this herself and then for the past two years, following a Social Services Financial Assessment, she made a partial payment contribution each month, with the council paying the remainder.  I can't see how she would have qualified for any disabilty discount, certaibly not in the past.

    I'm in the process of drawing up a POA, which should have been set up earlier, but my mother was very independently minded, and now pending on the outcome of a psychiatric assessment, the current POA may or may not be accepted.

    I'm quite sure there are no other bank accounts, from which CT might have been taken, as her only income is the State Pension, and there are no transfers out of the main account to any other accounts.

    The property is on a large 1960s estate, and not some obscure 'cottage' that the Local Authority might have missed - so I'm perpelexed.

    Given that I have to notify the LA of a change of residency, I might just have to take the plunge and go for it, and deal with any issues if and when they emerge. Hey ho!
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,629 Forumite
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    I know this is difficult because of the passage of time, but when you bought the property a) did your mother move straight in and b) if she did not, do you remember if you told the council when she did?


    I'm ex VOA and I remember we had a case where between ourselves and the council we failed to band a new build house on a largish new estate and it wasn't until the original occupier moved some 7 or 8 years later the council discovered the omission. I also have a vague memory of around the year 2000 bringing into CT a detached non estate house clearly built pre 1993 (start of CT) and backdating it to 1 April 1993. So it is not entirely inconceivable that the house may have slipped through the net, although unlikely after such a long period of time.


    I would just tell the council that as landlord of the house, your tenant has vacated and gone into permanent care with effect from dd/mm/yyyy and you are now responsible for the CT. Don't disclose anything about the presumed non payment of CT to that date, as landlord it is and was not your responsibility. Don't let the council guilt trip you into paying any possible arrears, they are not your responsibility.
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • macman
    macman Posts: 53,094 Forumite
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    You could set up an online account to view the C Tax  account, with your mother's permission of course.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • Harry227
    Harry227 Posts: 23 Forumite
    First Post
    I know this is difficult because of the passage of time, but when you bought the property a) did your mother move straight in and b) if she did not, do you remember if you told the council when she did?


    I'm ex VOA and I remember we had a case where between ourselves and the council we failed to band a new build house on a largish new estate and it wasn't until the original occupier moved some 7 or 8 years later the council discovered the omission. I also have a vague memory of around the year 2000 bringing into CT a detached non estate house clearly built pre 1993 (start of CT) and backdating it to 1 April 1993. So it is not entirely inconceivable that the house may have slipped through the net, although unlikely after such a long period of time.


    I would just tell the council that as landlord of the house, your tenant has vacated and gone into permanent care with effect from dd/mm/yyyy and you are now responsible for the CT. Don't disclose anything about the presumed non payment of CT to that date, as landlord it is and was not your responsibility. Don't let the council guilt trip you into paying any possible arrears, they are not your responsibility.

    Thank you.  That's really helpful too. 

    Yes, my mother moved straight in, and there was no period during which the property was empty from the completion of the sale and the previous owner moving out.  I had assumed, perhaps foolishly, that my mother had notified the Local Authority re council tax, as she evidently did in regard to setting up accounts with the utility companies, etc.  She had paid council tax in the previous property she lived in, which I had also owned and which I then sold to buy this current property. 

    Althoguh I think my mother falls under the description of a 'licensee' rather than a 'tenant, as she did not pay rent, I'm very worried as I've read somewhere that it is the landlord's (my) responsibilty to inform the LA that a tennant has moved in - so perhaps I'm at fault and liable for the payment, interest and fines.

    I'm sure the coucil knew about the property for coucil tax purposes, as the previous owner would have (I expect) paid coucil tax, and this would have suddenly stopped when the owner moved out, and so the coucil most likely noticed the none payment.  Also, checking on the council's website, the property has a Local Authority reference number for coucil tax purposes, informing me of its banding, 'any improvement indicators' 'no'; 'mixed-use property' 'no' ; 'court code' 'none'.  However the section 'with effect from' is empty.

    Also, thank you for the advice regarding contacting the coucil, and not refering to the payment history.
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,629 Forumite
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    Clearly the house has been assessed for CT since CT started (the absence of an effective date indicates this).


    Usually if the council is informed that a person has vacated a property, they will send a form or letter to the property address asking for details of the new occupier and would most definitely follow this up.


    As I have previously stated, you are not responsible for the CT as in the "hierarchy of liability", the actual occupier is at the top of the list. There can be no fines nor interest, any fault lies fairly and squarely with the council for not ascertaining the name of the occupier and billing them.


    I can only repeat, just inform the council you are now responsible for the council tax as the previous occupier has gone into permanent care. 


    Finally I'm 99.999999% positive of the answer to this one, but is there any way in which you may have been inadvertently paying the CT? 
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Harry227
    Harry227 Posts: 23 Forumite
    First Post
    Clearly the house has been assessed for CT since CT started (the absence of an effective date indicates this).


    Usually if the council is informed that a person has vacated a property, they will send a form or letter to the property address asking for details of the new occupier and would most definitely follow this up.


    As I have previously stated, you are not responsible for the CT as in the "hierarchy of liability", the actual occupier is at the top of the list. There can be no fines nor interest, any fault lies fairly and squarely with the council for not ascertaining the name of the occupier and billing them.


    I can only repeat, just inform the council you are now responsible for the council tax as the previous occupier has gone into permanent care. 


    Finally I'm 99.999999% positive of the answer to this one, but is there any way in which you may have been inadvertently paying the CT? 

    Really appreciate your confirming and reassuring, especially re hierarchy of liabilities. Re: payment by my mother, I can't see any indication of her making any payments, unless there is/was some means by which payment was made directly from the DWP, and if so I've no idea under what circumstances that could have arisen. That doesn't seem credible. 

    I'm due to contact the coucil tomorrow to inform them that the resident (my mother) has now moved into a permenant place in a care home, and to register myself for payment of ongoing CT. 

    Again, thank you for all of your support and advice.
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