Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • satchmo1
    • By satchmo1 18th Nov 13, 8:48 PM
    • 1,886Posts
    • 12,324Thanks
    satchmo1
    Council tax empty property surcharge
    • #1
    • 18th Nov 13, 8:48 PM
    Council tax empty property surcharge 18th Nov 13 at 8:48 PM
    Has anyone had any experience of challenging 50% council tax surcharge on an empty property?

    It has taken me 2 years to sell my empty tiny terraced property, and there has been a £600+ surcharge on my CT bill. Plus they won't give me a single occupancy reduction.

    I'd be very grateful to know whether anyone has challenged this tax surcharge?
Page 1
    • FLAPJACK
    • By FLAPJACK 18th Nov 13, 9:13 PM
    • 509 Posts
    • 376 Thanks
    FLAPJACK
    • #2
    • 18th Nov 13, 9:13 PM
    • #2
    • 18th Nov 13, 9:13 PM
    Yep been there didn't get the t-shirt!

    We own the terraced house nextdoor (other side of the party wall), we use the place everyday. We bought the place as an extention to our home really...and not having to move to a larger place.

    Have explored the cost of "knocking through" but is pretty expensive...also it would mean we couldn't rent it out in the future, without bricking up the new doorway.

    Explained to the CT office that the place is not empty....their definition of empty is that no one lives there....living there means sleeping there.

    I said well in that case (tongue in cheek) the wife and I could split up and I'll live there..the answer to this was that the Council would cross reference with the utility companies to see if the bills are matching the average for the area, and see if the place has washing outside! a bit of big brother thrown in for good measure it seems.

    We don't mind paying (and are doing so) the full 100% C/T but as the place isn't boarded up and is being used daily it's galling to think that just because the computer "says no" thats it.

    We did say they would be welcome to come and see for themselves that are occuping the property everyday. But it was no dice.

    So good luck in your quest but don't hold your breath.
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 19th Nov 13, 2:22 PM
    • 10,732 Posts
    • 8,984 Thanks
    lincroft1710
    • #3
    • 19th Nov 13, 2:22 PM
    • #3
    • 19th Nov 13, 2:22 PM
    As there is no occupier, there cannot be a 25% single person discount. CT law permits councils to surcharge on empty property, so you have virtually no chance in mounting a successful challenge.
    • Buzby
    • By Buzby 19th Nov 13, 2:57 PM
    • 8,167 Posts
    • 2,995 Thanks
    Buzby
    • #4
    • 19th Nov 13, 2:57 PM
    • #4
    • 19th Nov 13, 2:57 PM
    If you lift up the floorboards you can get a suspension that will give 6 months up to a max of a year with no payment required, and for this they require proof of non habitation.

    After the 12 months though, the full charge applies again - and some are even surcharging empty properties to discourage property squatting by owners using it as an investment vehicle.
    • The Deep
    • By The Deep 19th Nov 13, 4:35 PM
    • 9,520 Posts
    • 9,302 Thanks
    The Deep
    • #5
    • 19th Nov 13, 4:35 PM
    • #5
    • 19th Nov 13, 4:35 PM
    While Busyboy may be correct, (he has been known to give misleading advice) I would suggest that you read the guidance here before you rip up your floorboards

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/council-tax-empty-homes-premium

    Para 6 states




    The government’s intention behind the decision to provide billing authorities with the power to charge a premium was not to penalise owners of property that is genuinely on the housing market for sale or rent.






    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 19th Nov 13, 5:00 PM
    • 10,732 Posts
    • 8,984 Thanks
    lincroft1710
    • #6
    • 19th Nov 13, 5:00 PM
    • #6
    • 19th Nov 13, 5:00 PM
    If you lift up the floorboards
    Originally posted by Buzby
    Which won't work if you've got solid floors and you won't want to do if you've got fitted carpet.

    Far too time consuming to contemplate.
    • CIS
    • By CIS 19th Nov 13, 5:06 PM
    • 10,528 Posts
    • 6,082 Thanks
    CIS
    • #7
    • 19th Nov 13, 5:06 PM
    • #7
    • 19th Nov 13, 5:06 PM
    Has anyone had any experience of challenging 50% council tax surcharge on an empty property?
    You can't other than to try and persuade the council to change policy.
    If you lift up the floorboards you can get a suspension that will give 6 months up to a max of a year with no payment required, and for this they require proof of non habitation.
    That probably wouldn't make any difference in most areas - the criteria for the 50% premium is that the property has been unoccupied AND unfurnished for 2 years or more. Doing works on the property , in most areas, no longer gets any reduction so the premium would still apply (it would also continue to apply either side of any Class D discount which the council may still grant).

    The easiest way to stop a 50% surcharge is to either have the property occupied and/or furnished.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • FLAPJACK
    • By FLAPJACK 20th Nov 13, 1:56 PM
    • 509 Posts
    • 376 Thanks
    FLAPJACK
    • #8
    • 20th Nov 13, 1:56 PM
    • #8
    • 20th Nov 13, 1:56 PM
    CIS,

    So you are saying if a property is furnished it will not attract the 50% extra charge?

    Is this rule the same for all councils?

    Cheers
    • CIS
    • By CIS 20th Nov 13, 7:34 PM
    • 10,528 Posts
    • 6,082 Thanks
    CIS
    • #9
    • 20th Nov 13, 7:34 PM
    • #9
    • 20th Nov 13, 7:34 PM
    So you are saying if a property is furnished it will not attract the 50% extra charge?
    Yes

    and
    Is this rule the same for all councils?
    Yes (in E & W).

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/17/section/12/enacted
    Section 12(8) of the LGFA 2012.

    (8)For the purposes of this section, a dwelling is a !!!8220;long-term empty dwelling!!!8221; on any day if for a continuous period of at least 2 years ending with that day!!!8212;

    (a)it has been unoccupied, and

    (b)it has been substantially unfurnished.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • FLAPJACK
    • By FLAPJACK 20th Nov 13, 10:21 PM
    • 509 Posts
    • 376 Thanks
    FLAPJACK
    Thanks for this.

    just to be clear then the property in order NOT to attract the 50% charge either has to occupied OR furnished.......one or other or both?

    My local C/T office was adament that even if my property was furnished it would in their eyes be deemed to be still unoccupied if no one actually slept in the property.

    As you can see from my post (2) we use the place and it is furnished (as we have family come to stay), but telling the C/T office this didn't get us very far.

    We are paying 100% C/T on the property.
    • The Deep
    • By The Deep 21st Nov 13, 11:11 AM
    • 9,520 Posts
    • 9,302 Thanks
    The Deep
    I am puzzled, you say,


    It has taken me 2 years to sell my empty tiny terraced property,

    So, it has now been sold? If you have been paying CT for a year, it would seems that the council are not following the guidelines, I would pay and appeal. If they turn you down take it to the Ombudsman.
    • CIS
    • By CIS 21st Nov 13, 1:00 PM
    • 10,528 Posts
    • 6,082 Thanks
    CIS
    just to be clear then the property in order NOT to attract the 50% charge either has to occupied OR furnished.......one or other or both?
    If it's furnished the sucharge no longer applies and if it's occupied the surcharge no longer applies.

    To be subject to the surcharge it has to be unoccupied & unfurnished.
    We are paying 100% C/T on the property.
    That's correct on a long term unoccupied and furnished property - no exemption applies and the council can give a 0% discount for these properties.

    The fact it's furnished and not unfurnished however prevents any 50% surcharge being applied on top of the charge.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax specialist. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 21st Nov 13, 3:14 PM
    • 10,732 Posts
    • 8,984 Thanks
    lincroft1710
    I am puzzled, you say,


    It has taken me 2 years to sell my empty tiny terraced property,

    So, it has now been sold? If you have been paying CT for a year, it would seems that the council are not following the guidelines, I would pay and appeal. If they turn you down take it to the Ombudsman.
    Originally posted by The Deep
    If you are referring to your earlier quote:

    The government’s intention behind the decision to provide billing authorities with the power to charge a premium was not to penalise owners of property that is genuinely on the housing market for sale or rent.

    This may not be the "government's intention", but unless the relevant legislation specifically excludes properties on the market for sale or rent, a council is not at fault nor acting outside the law by surcharging such property.

    Government policy or ideology does not override statute law. If a government believes legislation is not being used in the way it envisaged, it should amend that legislation.
    • satchmo1
    • By satchmo1 26th Nov 13, 10:45 PM
    • 1,886 Posts
    • 12,324 Thanks
    satchmo1
    That could be useful
    I would suggest that you read the guidance here

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/council-tax-empty-homes-premium

    Para 6 states

    The government’s intention behind the decision to provide billing authorities with the power to charge a premium was not to penalise owners of property that is genuinely on the housing market for sale or rent.
    Originally posted by The Deep
    Thanks for all your advice, although as the house is now sold I was hoping for something like the above (thanks, The Deep). I managed to get a refund of the CT I'd paid in full, but there wasn't a refund of the percentage of overpayment. I'm definitely going to challenge that, plus try adding the para 6 quote and see if it brings any results. Nothing to lose, after all.

    Satchmo
    • steve7487
    • By steve7487 12th Jan 18, 2:31 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    steve7487
    Having read the above I cannot see anything that covers my situation. We own a flat and a house. We have been living in the flat whilst renovating the house, and paying the 50% rates premium on the house. We have now moved into the house and asked for the premium to be taken off, however the council (Kingston) have said they will not so do as !!!8220;!!!8230;.that there is information outstanding to allow us to establish if this is your sole and main residence...!!!8221; and they will contact the council (Wandsworth) where the flat is. I have not notified Wandsworth that we have moved from the flat as we will be renovating it, so will be liable for rates there until we rent it. The house is, so far as I am concerned our !!!8220;sole and main residence!!!8221; but are they entitled to continue with the surcharge because we are still paying rates to Wandsworth?
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

725Posts Today

6,370Users online

Martin's Twitter
  • This tweet made me reread my 'How to Vote in the EU referendum' guide - quite interesting to realise how little has? https://t.co/lFQaSSqUGj

  • Ah these care free days of watching #ENG score 5 goals in the first half of a World Cup match. It reminds me of... Never.

  • Then it should be. It's not some accident. It's deliberate grappling https://t.co/UxVTuUSNio

  • Follow Martin