Susan (not her real name) has consulted the Blog Clinic about a problem with Council Tax
Hi Last year my tenants were in arrears of rent and weren’t responding. Eventually in July 2010 they turned up at my Agent’s with the keys expecting to get their deposit back. They didn’t because they’d left the house in a mess and owed rent. (I have since got a CCJ against them) In the meantime I had to refurb the house.
The local authority allows 6 months Council tax exemption on empty property but only allowed me 5 months because they said that the tenants had given them a date in June 2010 that they had left the property. Because the keys weren’t returned until July this was the date that my agent notifed to the Council that the property was vacant (we didn’t know they had apparently left in June because there was still furniture in the property which could be seen through the windows so we had no reason to believe they had gone).
The Council is insisting the exemption time starts from when the tenants notifed them not when our agent notified them. I am arguing that we did not get possession of the property until the keys were returned and indeed if they had not been returned the only way we could have got possession was via a Court order. Consequently my argument is that until the tenants returned the keys, they still had possession of the property no matter what they had told the Council. Am I right?
Are there any local authority people reading who would be able to answer this question?