I have been made aware of the following case which certainly is an eye opener for those who may think they qualify for a council tax exemption.
Previously I had believed that if a house was empty you could qualify for a 100% exemption for up to 6 months. So for example if you moved elsewhere and were still trying to sell your house this was a handy exemption, something I myself took advantage of when selling my own house after having got married. In fact I even showed the council tax inspector round to prove there was no furniture in the house, and was quite pleased to see councils check up on this sort of thing. I’ve always been one of those who believed that if council collected all the tax that was due, perhaps the rates for us all could not go up so much, or in the case of Hammersmith and Fulham – maybe we could even get a reduction.
Now for those of you who think the 6 months exemption for a vacant house is automatic think again.
Let me give you an example. Couple A sells their house to Couple B. Couple A took over a year to sell their house and had been living elsewhere for that year – so had used the 6 months exemption (as it was empty) on the house being sold.
Now couple B already own a house on the same street as the house they are buying from couple A (the house that has been vacant and has already had a 6 months council tax exemption). With me so far?
Couple B believed that they could claim a council tax exemption on the new house until they wanted to move in. After all, they paying council tax on the house they are living in.
Well apparently not. Apparently the legislation didn’t really make provision for this, and its all about the case law.
So couple B go through with the house purchase and are still living in the original house but paying full council tax on both. Seems fair? Not to me.
So the solutions are a) They could let students live for free in their new house and then it would qualify for a 100% exemption. b) They could live apart (though on the same street) and get a 25% exemption on each house (but they don’t want to do this) c) They could move into the new house and claim an exemption on their original house
BUT THEY CANNOT CLAIM A 6 month exemption on the house they have just bought, even though it will be vacant and it seems possible that in future no one else down the line can either.
Surely this can’t be true?