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  • FIRST POST
    • Ram21
    • By Ram21 11th Jan 19, 12:40 PM
    • 1Posts
    • 0Thanks
    Ram21
    Being bullied over council tax
    • #1
    • 11th Jan 19, 12:40 PM
    Being bullied over council tax 11th Jan 19 at 12:40 PM
    Morning all!

    Really not sure if this is the right place or not, apologies in advance if theres a better board to post this to.

    Since September 18 I have been at loggerheads with my local authority (Medway Council) over my bill. I bought my house in October 2016, at the time it was an absolute dump and needed a full refurb (Kitchen, Bathroom, flooring, you name it, it needed doing) Never lived alone before so called the council to set up my DD for council tax and ask what happens next. During the conversation the gent I spoke with explained I could have a 3 month discount as I wasnt moving straight in. Fast forward to March 17, house was finished and in I moved with my partner and 3 month old son.

    September last year rolls around and I get a letter in the post advising Im being charged for a vacant property. I call the council and ask what on earth they are on about. They explained because I didnt declare myself as moving in (was never told I needed to) I was being charged for an empty house, and if i did move in i needed to provide proof of residence from January 2017. Difficult one as I changed my utility providers but I obtained documents from my old gas, elec and phone line.

    This is where things get tricky. I sent the above off, all dated from November 16 as thats when I took out all the contracts, i got a reply saying the vacant property charge had been lifted, but now so had my discount as I moved in in November. Again I called and asked for an explanation and was told having an internet connection constitutes as living in the property. I replied to their letter with tonnes of pictures of work being done to the house, with regular shots of it completely empty and without a kitchen until Feb 17, I also gave them a breakdown of my energy usage showing a minimal usage from Oct 16 - feb 17 then a giant leap in usage when we moved in from March. However, they are stuck on this phone bill being proof my entire family, 3 month old included, living there and that they class the property as habitable.

    Surely a house with no kitchen (or running tap water) isnt bloody habbitable?! Especially for a family with a 3. Month baby?!

    At this point Ive wrote to my MP with no reply and contact the CAB who said pay the bill, if I let it escalate to court what could happen? Honestly the stress of this is putting me over the edge!

    Ps, sorry for the essay
Page 1
    • swingaloo
    • By swingaloo 11th Jan 19, 12:56 PM
    • 1,940 Posts
    • 3,537 Thanks
    swingaloo
    • #2
    • 11th Jan 19, 12:56 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Jan 19, 12:56 PM
    So what council tax have you paid since you moved in? Your post is a bit confusing. Are you saying you have been paying the incorrect council tax since you moved in 22 months ago?

    You should have informed the council when you moved in that the house was now occupied otherwise how are they to know.

    Council Tax is classed as a priority debt and if you are taken to court then charges will be added.
    • CIS
    • By CIS 11th Jan 19, 12:58 PM
    • 10,908 Posts
    • 6,338 Thanks
    CIS
    • #3
    • 11th Jan 19, 12:58 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Jan 19, 12:58 PM
    When did you move in to the property ?



    Surely a house with no kitchen (or running tap water) isnt bloody habbitable?! Especially for a family with a 3. Month baby?!
    A kitchen/running water isn't need for it to be a dwelling - provided a building has 4 walls and a roof and can be lived in, even at a bare basic level, it is a dwelling for council tax purposes. The decision as to whether or not it is a dwelling is that of the valuation office (and any dispute would need to be raised with them).

    Where the valuation office have determined it is a dwelling and should be listed on the council tax valuation list then the council must look at the property for any council tax which is due, they have no choice.


    I bought my house in October 2016, at the time it was an absolute dump and needed a full refurb (Kitchen, Bathroom, flooring, you name it, it needed doing)
    Where a property is deemed to be a dwelling for council tax purposes then unless there are major works/structural works then it does not fall under the Class D discount. The Class D discount is however delegated to the local authority as to the rate of discount given.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax paralegal assisting Council Tax payers. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • TELLIT01
    • By TELLIT01 11th Jan 19, 2:00 PM
    • 5,821 Posts
    • 6,574 Thanks
    TELLIT01
    • #4
    • 11th Jan 19, 2:00 PM
    • #4
    • 11th Jan 19, 2:00 PM
    Simply 'being a dump' is not likely to be accepted as being unfit for habitation. If the kitchen and bathroom were usable when you moved in, not whether or not you wanted to use them in that state, is likely to be the deciding factor for Council Tax to be paid.
    As others have asked, when did you move in and when did you start paying Council Tax?
    I don't see where any bullying has taken place. From the council's viewpoint you have not paid your Council Tax and they have a legal obligation to collect it. If they don't accept your reasoning for why you shouldn't pay it, and are demanding payment, that is not bullying.
    • parkrunner
    • By parkrunner 11th Jan 19, 6:53 PM
    • 1,671 Posts
    • 2,768 Thanks
    parkrunner
    • #5
    • 11th Jan 19, 6:53 PM
    • #5
    • 11th Jan 19, 6:53 PM
    September last year rolls around and I get a letter in the post advising Im being charged for a vacant property. I call the council and ask what on earth they are on about. They explained because I didnt declare myself as moving in (was never told I needed to) I was being charged for an empty house, and if i did move in i needed to provide proof of residence from January 2017. Difficult one as I changed my utility providers but I obtained documents from my old gas, elec and phone line.
    Originally posted by Ram21

    How else are they supposed to know?
    • Afraid of Kittens
    • By Afraid of Kittens 11th Jan 19, 7:47 PM
    • 184 Posts
    • 217 Thanks
    Afraid of Kittens
    • #6
    • 11th Jan 19, 7:47 PM
    • #6
    • 11th Jan 19, 7:47 PM
    How else are they supposed to know?
    Originally posted by parkrunner
    Telepathy.

    OP problems are entirely due to the incompetent councils failure to use telepathy to know when he moved in.
    I enjoy flower arranging, kittens, devil worship, the study of serial killers and their methods and road kill jigsaws.
    • es5595
    • By es5595 11th Jan 19, 9:24 PM
    • 112 Posts
    • 124 Thanks
    es5595
    • #7
    • 11th Jan 19, 9:24 PM
    • #7
    • 11th Jan 19, 9:24 PM
    I’d stop and sit down and work out a timeline, make it really simple;
    - date I bought the house
    - date I was told I could have three months discount as I wasn’t moving in
    - date I moved in
    Then gather all your evidence to prove it.

    Write a short (and simple) covering letter explaining you are happy to pay council tax from the date you moved in, and ask for that to be invoiced.

    Explain you are in dispute with them if they do not agree with that moving in date, in which case you would still like to be invoiced for the agreed outstanding council tax, but the amount in disputed will need to be escalated.

    Have a look on the VOA tribunal website and read some of the decisions. You’ll see they seem to be held and made by sensible, level-headed and intelligent people, unlike those whom the councils seem to employ.

    Hopefully that will put your mind at rest if it does need to go to tribunal, and you’ll appreciate how easy it is to defend against the council, especially since they were the ones who told you that the three months grace would be if you didn’t move in, and you didn’t, and certainly not by any “reasonable onlookers” standard.
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