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    Council Tax Exemption - Advice needed!

    So heres they story,

    We bought a property in July 2010 which has just finished getting renovated. We applied for the expemption for council tax which was granted (I didnt know at the time it was for 6 months i have only just found this out, no one had told me this information). I got a bill through in Decemeber to cover Decemeber and Jan, which at the time we were still not yet in the property. So i rang and advised the council that the property was unoccupied and we where due to move in at the end of Jan 2011. They guy advised me on the phone that they will let the back office know. So i recieved yet another bull last week saying i owed nearlly £700 (they had only applied the exemption from July-Aug and not July-Jan) So yet again i was back on the phone to the council and they advised me that they had sent an inspector round (without my knowledge) The inspector must have looked thorugh the front room window and noticed the sofas (which we moved in at the begining of Dec so that people didnt think the property was unoccupied). I have written a letter and they responded to me by saying that i need to make an appointment for an inspector to come round (Since this my letter and their letter) I have started to move furniture in but still not living in the peoperty.

    I am unsure what to do now, Any thoughts? and also is the inspector allowed to come round without me knowing? He didnt post a calling card etc and if he looked at the BIG sign on the front door saying please go to number 6 (which is my mams house as she has a key) he would have been able to get into the property to see that it was unfurnished.

    14 Comments

    Banned

    Any communications need to be in writing or via email - phone conversations are no good unless you can get some kind of proof that they have made a note on your account that a conversation has taken place.

    Remember that 99% of bills/invoices from council offices are automatic.

    Before we had tenants for an apartment we rent out, we went through exactly the same problems. I was finally told by the representative at the council to simply 'ignore' any future demands as it will all be sorted and they can't stop automatic invoices/bills. It was at this stage that I made sure I got a written confirmation from then that a note had been put into the account.

    It can be an uphill struggle dealing with the councils where unoccupied property is concerned. They, and their systems, presume that your lying and it's up to you to prove the facts.

    That's how it felt anyway.

    Hope that helps.

    Banned

    On a further note, have you done the same with the electric/gas etc?

    Original Poster

    Thanks. I'm going into the council on Tuesday to speak to someone directly. I have reciepts etc for when we had the kitchen fitted, carpets etc. We didnt even have any electric in the kitchen until the 6th Jan. With the electric and gas we are set up with them and are just paying for it each month (although we are in credit).

    Do you know if they are allowed to send an inspector round without my consent? - and i have no proof he has been as he didnt leave a calling card.

    when my dad had major renovations done to his house they had to move out for 6 months, the council told them he wouldnt need to pay his council tax for that time as long as there wasnt nay furniture left in the house, the works ran over and he had to pay half of the normal council tax fee until they moved back in 3 months later.
    With the inspector yes they can come and inspect your property without you being there they have just done this with our new house, if a property has had extensions or major works done they will call. The lady who did ours looked through the gate at the back of the house to see the extensions , i phoned after i received the letter to say she had been to see if they wanted to inspect the attic bedroom they said no and our council tax dropped £20 a month.

    Banned

    karenmaclane

    Thanks. I'm going into the council on Tuesday to speak to someone … Thanks. I'm going into the council on Tuesday to speak to someone directly. I have reciepts etc for when we had the kitchen fitted, carpets etc. We didnt even have any electric in the kitchen until the 6th Jan. With the electric and gas we are set up with them and are just paying for it each month (although we are in credit).Do you know if they are allowed to send an inspector round without my consent? - and i have no proof he has been as he didnt leave a calling card.



    We used the fact that our electric and water was off to finally get to them to acknowledge the property was empty so if you have it on, you can't use that as proof.
    Not sure about the inspector thing though - it didn't get to that stage with us.
    I'm unsure how he can make a decision just from peering through the window though - sounds odd.

    the inspectors dont need to see inside the house they just want to see what you've done outside, like extensions, garages things like that

    therefore they dont need consent to look at the property

    Of coarse they don't need consent, Anyone can go look at a property, Look through the windows etc...

    They try to catch you out.

    Original Poster

    Cheers for the comments. I think it is odd that he has made a decision based in peering through a window. I have been paying little lec, gas and water as it has barley been used. So if it came to it i could possibly use that as proof. I think the whole situation is absurd - I am being made to look like im lying which im not. I suppose i'll just have to wait and see what they say when i go an speak to them.

    the whole point is there are many people out there trying to fiddle ways to not pay caouncil tax, If someone is letting rooms out and the inspector had to inform them of a visit,Then they would just make sure the house was empty at the time of the visit, The burden of proof is on you to show that no one could be staying there,


    They have targeted you because they think your trying to avoid paying the tax..

    To resolve this, all you need to do is provide the gas and electric bills for the last 6 months, once they see the usage is far below average or near zero they should be
    fine with that.

    However if the bills are like average due to having heating on etc over winter to prevent the pipes freezing and electric from doing work, you will have to create a case of appeal.

    In the councils eyes, you are guilty until you can prove otherwise, it should be simple to resolve.
    Edited by: "RickT" 16th Jan 2011

    I totally agree with Jonny.. You have to write to them or complain via their website form. I have found both effective. Also, try and ignore their demands and threat of liability orders. Just make sure you get it sorted. Hope this helps.

    Banned

    Property has to be UNFURNISHED.

    The fact sofas were in there was why you are being correctly billed.

    Banned

    csiman

    Property has to be UNFURNISHED.The fact sofas were in there was why you … Property has to be UNFURNISHED.The fact sofas were in there was why you are being correctly billed.



    "Substantially" unfurnished actually.
    We let our property out as part furnished (with sofas) and had to confirm this with the local council get the exemption whilst it was empty.
    Edited by: "JonnyTwoToes" 16th Jan 2011

    Banned

    my bad - just noticed sofas went in in dec.

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