Council Tax Query


T

Take a Walk

If a tenants does a runner before the end of a tenancy, who is
responsible for council tax till the end of the tenancy, the landlord or
the tenant?
 
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R

Ronald Raygun

Take said:
If a tenants does a runner before the end of a tenancy, who is
responsible for council tax till the end of the tenancy, the landlord or
the tenant?
As far as the council is concerned, the tax is payable by the occupier
or, if none, the owner. That means the tenant up to the day he moves
out, and the landlord thereafter until he finds a new tenant.

As far as the landlord is concerned, if the old tenant can be traced,
he can be sued both for rent and council tax until the earlier of
when the tenancy would have expired and when a new tenant moved in.
 
V

Vadim Borshchev

Ronald said:
As far as the council is concerned, the tax is payable by the occupier
or, if none, the owner. That means the tenant up to the day he moves
out, and the landlord thereafter until he finds a new tenant.
If the property stays unoccupied for some period, the landlord can be exempt
from council tax for this property (normally 6-12 months). It would be
better to check with the council in question, they might have a web site.

Vadim
 
R

Richard Faulkner

Take a Walk said:
If a tenants does a runner before the end of a tenancy, who is
responsible for council tax till the end of the tenancy, the landlord or
the tenant?
Firstly, do you know that they have done a runner, and have you taken
possession of the property back - this, in itself, is fraught with
pitfalls because, if you take possession without taking the proper legal
steps, i.e. obtain a court order, the tenant could return and cause you
all kinds of difficulty if they know what they are doing.

However, it sounds like they are not coming back so, the date you take,
or took, possession, is the date from which you are liable for the tax.

You may get the 6 months free for an empty property, but I think it has
to be empty of furniture as well as occupants.

In the past, where it has suited me, if a tenant has done a runner, I
have not taken possession on the basis that they may come back. I have
then taken possession when it suited me, within reason, and told the
council at the time.

Good Luck
 
R

Ronald Raygun

Vadim said:
If the property stays unoccupied for some period, the landlord can be
exempt from council tax for this property (normally 6-12 months).
Indeed. Normally the exemption is given for a maximum period of 6
months since last occupied, but only if it's unfurnished. Thereafter,
and otherwise, the owner pays 50% of full whack.
 
J

john boyle

Ronald said:
As far as the council is concerned, the tax is payable by the occupier
or, if none, the owner. That means the tenant up to the day he moves
out, and the landlord thereafter until he finds a new tenant.
Hmm Im not so sure thats the case down here. The tenant is responsible
while he is the tenant. If he moves out before the end of the tenancy
then he is still responsible but he may get relief if hes left the place
completely empty. When possession reverts to the landlord then the LL
becomes responsible but he may get relief on the same basis.
 
J

Jonathan Bryce

john said:
Hmm Im not so sure thats the case down here. The tenant is responsible
while he is the tenant. If he moves out before the end of the tenancy
then he is still responsible but he may get relief if hes left the place
completely empty. When possession reverts to the landlord then the LL
becomes responsible but he may get relief on the same basis.
But if the tenant hands back the keys before the end of the tenancy, it
could be argued that the landlord does have possession.
 
T

Take a Walk

Firstly, do you know that they have done a runner, and have you taken
possession of the property back - this, in itself, is fraught with
pitfalls because, if you take possession without taking the proper legal
steps, i.e. obtain a court order, the tenant could return and cause you
all kinds of difficulty if they know what they are doing.

However, it sounds like they are not coming back so, the date you take,
or took, possession, is the date from which you are liable for the tax.

You may get the 6 months free for an empty property, but I think it has
to be empty of furniture as well as occupants.

In the past, where it has suited me, if a tenant has done a runner, I
have not taken possession on the basis that they may come back. I have
then taken possession when it suited me, within reason, and told the
council at the time.

Good Luck
Hi,

This is a retrospective thing.... I rented out a flat for a number of
years and then my main business got into trouble (so I didn't take too
much notice of the flat) and went bankrupt, the flat getting repossessed
in the process.

The tenant left some time around my bankrupcy (but I don't know exactly
when because I told him that the receivers were now in charge and he could
stay until someone told him otherwise). As it was the Building Society
officially repossessed the flat some 5 months after I gave them permission
to (I handed some keys back)(the date of my bankrupcy)

Now the council wants 50% (empty charge) of council tax due for the period
between handing the keys back and the official reposssession date.

If I'd known it was still 'mine' till that time I obv would have continued
charging rent!
 
J

john boyle

Jonathan said:
But if the tenant hands back the keys before the end of the tenancy, it
could be argued that the landlord does have possession.
Dont follow that. By giving the keys back you do not revoke the rights
of the tenancy, you are still responsible for your obligations under the
tenancy agreement and still retain your rights of occupation. The fact
that you choose not to live there is irrelevant.
 
J

john boyle

Take a Walk said:
This is a retrospective thing.... I rented out a flat for a number of
years and then my main business got into trouble (so I didn't take too
much notice of the flat) and went bankrupt, the flat getting repossessed
in the process.

The tenant left some time around my bankrupcy (but I don't know exactly
when because I told him that the receivers were now in charge and he could
stay until someone told him otherwise). As it was the Building Society
officially repossessed the flat some 5 months after I gave them permission
to (I handed some keys back)(the date of my bankrupcy)

Now the council wants 50% (empty charge) of council tax due for the period
between handing the keys back and the official reposssession date.

If I'd known it was still 'mine' till that time I obv would have continued
charging rent!
You made some mistakes here as I think you now realise.

Handing keys back does not mean that you are giving them the permission
to repossess or that they are taking possession.

If you are bankrupt then surely the council are merely creditors to your
bankrupt estate?
 
R

Richard Faulkner

Jonathan said:
But if the tenant hands back the keys before the end of the tenancy, it
could be argued that the landlord does have possession.
Correct.
 
R

Richard Faulkner

john boyle said:
Dont follow that. By giving the keys back you do not revoke the rights
of the tenancy, you are still responsible for your obligations under
the tenancy agreement and still retain your rights of occupation. The
fact that you choose not to live there is irrelevant.
Handing over keys is quite a significant event in terms of the landlord
getting possession. He can the pursue the ex tenant for any loss
incurred, provided he mitigates the loss by reletting the place as soon
as is reasonably possible. Part of the loss could be council tax due,
but the LL would be liable, and would have to pursue the tenant - which
would generally be a waste of time.
 
R

Richard Faulkner

Take a Walk said:
Hi,

This is a retrospective thing.... I rented out a flat for a number of
years and then my main business got into trouble (so I didn't take too
much notice of the flat) and went bankrupt, the flat getting repossessed
in the process.

The tenant left some time around my bankrupcy (but I don't know exactly
when because I told him that the receivers were now in charge and he could
stay until someone told him otherwise). As it was the Building Society
officially repossessed the flat some 5 months after I gave them permission
to (I handed some keys back)(the date of my bankrupcy)

Now the council wants 50% (empty charge) of council tax due for the period
between handing the keys back and the official reposssession date.

If I'd known it was still 'mine' till that time I obv would have continued
charging rent!
This is a bit confusing - if you had not taken possession of the flat,
either lawfully, or unlawfully, then you are not liable for the tax, and
the council should pursue the tenant. The only date when you can be
certain that the tenant had left, given that he had not handed the keys
to you, was the date of possession by the building society, after which
you are obviously not liable. If you had taken possession prior to the
building societies possession, this would have been unlawful without a
court order, and not something that you seem to have done.

Tell the council this in writing, and suggest that you will be quite
happy to explain the situation to a judge if they wish to take you to
court.

If they dont back down, you can then tell the judge that the council
seem to be suggesting that you had neither a court order for possession,
nor had the tenant handed the keys back to you, nor had you taken
unlawful possession. You could suggest that it is somewhat defamatory of
the council to suggest that you did, and that you felt as if you were
being harassed and bullied into paying a tax owed by someone else
because they couldn't be bothered to pursue the right person..

I cant guarantee that you will win, but I think a judge would favour the
poor unsuspecting bankrupt over the mighty, al-powerful council.
 
R

Richard Faulkner

john boyle said:
You made some mistakes here as I think you now realise.

Handing keys back does not mean that you are giving them the permission
to repossess or that they are taking possession.
In my experience, handing the keys to a building society is known as a
voluntary possession, and is quite common.
If you are bankrupt then surely the council are merely creditors to
your bankrupt estate?
I wondered about this but, as the alleged debt was incurred after
bankruptcy, is it possible that it is due, and an allowable payment from
the bankrupts income?

Otherwise, we could all go bankrupt, and then avoid any debts incurred
after our bankruptcy - forever??
 
R

Ronald Raygun

john said:
Dont follow that. By giving the keys back you do not revoke the rights
of the tenancy,
Yes you do
you are still responsible for your obligations under the
tenancy agreement
Indeed you are
and still retain your rights of occupation.
You retain your rights until you cease to be entitled to them *or* until
you explicitly revoke them. It is generally understood that handing back
the keys is a symbolic gesture of revocation of your right to occupation,
of *giving back* possession. The only other thing it could mean would be
to say "I'm going away for a while, please look after the place until I
return". Such a request would not normally need to be accompanied by a
returning of keys anyway, since it is assumed the landlord will have his
own set.

You're right, of course, that the tenant can't just revoke his obligations
as easily as his rights. So if the tenant is not permitted to bugger off
with zero notice, then returning the keys is both the implicit giving of
notice of termination and a formal admission that he is breaching the
terms of the rental agreement, specifically by not giving enough notice,
and also, where relevant, by violating the clause which says he mut not
leave the property unattended for more than X weeks. He still remains
liable for the rent in respect of the notice period, but because the
right to occupy has been given up, the landlord is surely now under an
obligation to mitigate his losses, to minimise the amount for which
he could sue the tenant, by seeking to install a replacement tenant.
 
R

Ronald Raygun

Richard said:
In the past, where it has suited me, if a tenant has done a runner, I
have not taken possession on the basis that they may come back. I have
then taken possession when it suited me, within reason, and told the
council at the time.
So, erm, "where it has suited you" you have not taken possession,
and "where it has suited you" you have. Any chance of being a bit
more specific? What is "within reason"? Is it based on a "not to
be left unoccupied for more than X weeks" or notice clauses?

In the absence of a handing back of keys, how did you know they'd
done a runner? Just when the rent had stopped coming in?
 
J

john boyle

Ronald said:
Yes you do


Indeed you are


You retain your rights until you cease to be entitled to them *or* until
you explicitly revoke them. It is generally understood that handing back
the keys is a symbolic gesture of revocation of your right to occupation,
of *giving back* possession. The only other thing it could mean would be
to say "I'm going away for a while, please look after the place until I
return". Such a request would not normally need to be accompanied by a
returning of keys anyway, since it is assumed the landlord will have his
own set.
I think this is a popular misconception based on stories of people using
the expression 'giving the keys back' when they meant 'we got chucked
out'. During the last property crash when people were in negative equity
some people sent the keys back to the mortgagee mistakenly thinking this
was all that was needed for them to get out of the mortgage.
You're right, of course, that the tenant can't just revoke his obligations
as easily as his rights. So if the tenant is not permitted to bugger off
with zero notice, then returning the keys is both the implicit giving of
notice of termination and a formal admission that he is breaching the
terms of the rental agreement, specifically by not giving enough notice,
and also, where relevant, by violating the clause which says he mut not
leave the property unattended for more than X weeks. He still remains
liable for the rent in respect of the notice period, but because the
right to occupy has been given up, the landlord is surely now under an
obligation to mitigate his losses, to minimise the amount for which
he could sue the tenant, by seeking to install a replacement tenant.
He needs more than possession of the keys to reclaim the property. He
needs the authority of the courts to do that before the end of the
tenancy agreement.
 
R

Ronald Raygun

john said:
I think this is a popular misconception based on stories of people using
the expression 'giving the keys back' when they meant 'we got chucked
out'. During the last property crash when people were in negative equity
some people sent the keys back to the mortgagee mistakenly thinking this
was all that was needed for them to get out of the mortgage.
Quite. The misconception was that by giving back the house their
obligations would cease. But what I'm saying is that giving back
the keys *means* giving up the (right to occupy) house.

But there is no misconception in saying that whilst an obligation
cannot be unilaterally revoked by a person who owes it, a right can.
He needs more than possession of the keys to reclaim the property.
If he already has the property back, he no longer needs to reclaim it.
He needs the authority of the courts to do that before the end of the
tenancy agreement.
He only needs authority of the courts to take possession from the
tenant by force or stealth against the tenant's will. But if the
tenant gives it up voluntarily, that is a completely different
matter - the landlord then *has* possession without ever having
needed to *take* it.
 
P

Peter Saxton

Hi,

This is a retrospective thing.... I rented out a flat for a number of
years and then my main business got into trouble (so I didn't take too
much notice of the flat) and went bankrupt, the flat getting repossessed
in the process.

The tenant left some time around my bankrupcy (but I don't know exactly
when because I told him that the receivers were now in charge and he could
stay until someone told him otherwise). As it was the Building Society
officially repossessed the flat some 5 months after I gave them permission
to (I handed some keys back)(the date of my bankrupcy)

Now the council wants 50% (empty charge) of council tax due for the period
between handing the keys back and the official reposssession date.

If I'd known it was still 'mine' till that time I obv would have continued
charging rent!
Did you tell the council you had subsequently been made bankrupt?

Not having to pay your debts is one of the main effects of bankruptcy!
 
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R

Richard Faulkner

Ronald said:
So, erm, "where it has suited you" you have not taken possession,
and "where it has suited you" you have. Any chance of being a bit
more specific? What is "within reason"? Is it based on a "not to
be left unoccupied for more than X weeks" or notice clauses?

In the absence of a handing back of keys, how did you know they'd
done a runner? Just when the rent had stopped coming in?
Sometimes you have a "feeling" that someone has done a runner, i.e.
haven't seen them for a while, (couple of months say), but you cannot
just take possession, in case they return and have you for unlawful
possession.

There then comes a point where you are reasonably certain that they have
done a runner, but feel that you would still need a court order to be
sure of taking possession lawfully. e.g. no sign of them for 3/4 months,
fridge full of rotting stuff, girlfriend says "I've left him, but dont
know what he's doing" etc.

There then comes a point where you are happy to take the risk that they
are not coming back, and take possession without a court order.

I cant be precise about the timings, and circumstances, as they are
purely judgement. What I can say is that I have never taken possession
and a tenant has returned.

I have sometimes taken no action against tenants in arrears as, as soon
as I obtain possession, I have to pay water rates and council tax. If I
have to refurbish before reletting, and am not ready, so it sometimes
suits me not to have possession.

The rent can often stop well in advance of the "runner", so is not a
factor which affects my decision to any great degree. Clearly, if rent
was still being paid directly by a tenant, rather than by Housing
Benefit, then the runner has not been done.
 

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