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Roxy105

Tenant not paying council tax

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Looking for some advice..

I issued my tenant with a section 21 notice last May giving 3 months notice to expire end of August. Tenant didn't leave on termination date and still hasn't left. They strung me along each month telling me they would be moving the next month, I didn't start the court eviction believing they would be soon going. Some how we get to March 2020 and the COVID situation starts meaning the court evictions are suspended anyway (My understanding?)

At some point in March my letting agent gets in touch with me as they have been contacted by Jacobs which is a debt collecting agency. Jacobs have been referred an unpaid council tax bill for the property for the 6 months from August. I rang Jacobs and explained I was in fact the landlord, they informed me I would have to get in touch with the local council as they couldn't amend the debtors name on the file. I rang the local council, spoke to a really unhelpful lady who informed me she had spoken to the tenant and the tenant said they weren't living at the address. I had to laugh (Briefly) as this sums the tenant up.  I told the lady the tenant is still there, they are still paying the monthly rent and I have regular correspondence with them over text regarding the property. She told me to put it all in an email, attaching statements/screenshots and she will deal with it, which i did.

I then didn't hear anything for 3 months, believing it had been resolved, until yesterday when I received another email from the council tax office. This was to tell me that the monthly rent payment statements from countrywide that I had provided them with weren't sufficient evidence that the tenant is living at the property, apparently all they prove is that the tenant is paying rent, which to the council tax office is not the same thing **head in hands at this stage**. The email then states I need to show a tenancy agreement for the period. the TA expired last August when they were meant to move out meaning I dont have anything for this period.

I rang the council office again and speak to a helpful lady who is sympathetic to my situation but tells me the onus of proof is on me.

Has anyone else had this problem before?

Other than driving to the house (I live in a different county) and filming the tenants leaving and entering the house I have no idea how to fix this.

Thanks 

Roxy

 

 

 

 

 

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That's asolutely crazy. 

Well assuming you are sure THEY are living at the property.....and the tenants haven't sub let it or moved family members in etc then...

In your shoes I'd send the Council a copy of the tenancy agreement that expired in August 2019, advise them that the tenancy has now become a statutory periodic tenancy. I'd also inform them that copies of any further documents will incur a charge. Then if they are not happy let them take you to court.......id love to be a fly on the wall.

On a more important point.....

* What is your letting agent doing for you ?......it sounds like not a lot.

* Who is doing regular inspections every 3 months ?

* Do your agents collect the rent ?

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Thank you very much for this.

I have provided the council tax office with the original TA, I will take your advice and resend this noting they are now on a statutory periodic tenancy.

I presume the tenant paid the council tax up until August 2019 (2 years in the property) as that's not being disputed. I'm aware of the concept of going after the deepest pockets but am absolutely flabbergasted at the performance from the tax office, they seem to want me to chase the debt for them. To make things more complicated the tenant has now stopped paying their rent "because the government told them they could".

I did ask the council tax man to deal with the letting agent directly, his response being that he cant do so as the debt has already been forwarded to the debt collector.. no idea if there's any truth in this.

In answer to your questions:

The letting agent only handle the rent, which I say loosely as they even manage to mess that up. I only pay them to handle the rent.

Getting in touch with them at the moment is very difficult, understandable with what's going on but still frustrating. I ended up sending them an email yesterday after my numerous calls and voicemails were unanswered. The email was asking them to confirm the tenant is still residing at the property, today I receive a text from the letting agent to confirm I still live at the property. I emailed again to say you've text me not the tenant to which they replied that they spotted the mistake and have now text and left a voicemail for the tenant.

I know the tenant wont pick up or reply as they will think its regarding the now unpaid rent.

I was carrying out the twice yearly  inspections up until last May, when I stopped. But since then there has be 2 occasions where we have had to carry our repairs and the tenants are 100% still residing at the property.

I am also in contact with the neighbour (I lived at the property for a year when I first bought it in 2014) who has confirmed they are still living there.

Thanks again,

Roxy

 

 

 

 

 

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* I hope you haven't sent the original tenancy agreement.....you should have sent a copy instead.

* Inspections should be more frequent than twice a year.....normally every 3 months.

So, with the evidence you have.....TA, proof of rent received, neighbour & letting agent that should be it. I wouldn't waste any more time on the matter. It's up to the Council to collect taxes.....it's not your responsibility.

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The question to ask is how come the debt collection agency got in touch with the lettings agency? Who gave them that address?

If they had that address and the letting agency details then surely there should have been some previous correspondence from the council tax dept  to the letting agency regarding outstanding bills before it got to stage of the council them instructing Jacobs. If so WHY didnt the letting agency forward any mail/bills.

I would first ask the letting agent if they were aware of any outstanding bill before the Jacob letter and then contact the council requesting copies of the correspondence and letter chain leading up to them instructing Jacobs to see where they were addressed to.  You could have a claim against the letting agency which could put pressure on them to help you resolve the issue with the council.   

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Apologies when I said original I meant a copy of the original agreement not the original paperwork.

As for the inspection ive now realised how many mistakes ive made over the years of renting, I was an accidental landlord and have kind of winged it. Lesson learnt.

Thanks again, I think you're right I just need to let them get on with it now.

Grampa - Thank you for the response, that's an interesting point. When the letting agent originally rang me re the debtor letter, it was a different lady that the usual one who handles the rent. She was shocked when I said the tenant was still at the property, I thought this was strange at the time as they had been collecting rent from the tenant every month since when they were meant to depart. This particular lady had checked the system, saw the tenancy expired at the end of August and assumed the tenant had gone, she thought she was just passing the letter on to me. I will query this with them as that would make sense if they had originally passed on incorrect information to the council tax office.

Thanks again both of you, this has been very helpful.

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