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Council Tax - Landlord agreed to pay when lease was signed and.... didn't

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Hi,

 

New user but old problem. Council Tax and shady landlords.

 

I have been teaching abroad for last 3 years only to come back home to Scotland to find my ex-flatmate says we have been hit for a £2000 council tax bill for the time we stayed together in a 2 bed flat from 2006-2007.

 

I was astonished because we never received any letters about this when we lived together about this and there were 4 witnesses that were present when we signed the lease that could swear on oath that our landlord said HE would pay ALL the bills specifically including council tax, gas, electricity and even the TV licence! The only one we had to pay was the internet & phone bill.

 

Unfortunately from reading up on this I think we are in a bad position:

 

1) According to the Council's guidelines, we as the tenants are responsible to pay the bill it seems.

2) No copy of the lease can be found. All my stuff was scattered to the winds when I moved away and my flatmate can't find his copy either.

3) From my vague recollection I am 99% sure that we would not have signed anything that said we were liable for bills but also I do not think the tenancy said that the landlord was responsible either. I think it was just understood as a verbal agreement. I know now this was incredibly stupid not to get it in writing.

4) My flatmate has almost finished paying his half of the rent off (£1000) before he told me about this (another bone of contention) so the debt collecting company won't stop there until I pay my share or else my flatmate will have to pay the whole thing.

5) The landlord is now saying this verbal agreement never happened and it was him that passed a copy of the lease on to the council. I take it they contacted him and he dropped us right in it. I wonder if he even went as far to forge a new tenancy agreement that said that we were liable for bills!

 

Anyway, I have more or less begrudgingly accepted that I will have to pay my share of the £1000 bill (I will just have to borrow the money off my very kind girlfriend) BUT it is the principle and injustice of it that still smarts.

 

Do I have anyway of reporting the landlord for this? He is a solicitor so I wonder if the Law Society of Scotland could do anything?

Also can I just pay the money to the Council direct instead of the debt collectors? I would MUCH prefer it that way.

 

Any advice on this matter would gratefully be received. Thanks.:confused:

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Before you pay anything, you need to acertain the legality of it. Is there a liability order etc; Contact the council by dropping in if possible or by letter recorded if not and ask them.

 

You can ask the landlord for a copy of the agreement and then check out your suspicions.

 

You day 'debt collectors', is that correct or is it a bailiff?

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Hi, sorry for not replying sooner. I've been waiting (and am still waiting) on info from my ex-flatmate.

 

Just to update the situation a (very) little. At present I am not "officially" required to pay anything. This is all based on what my ex-flatmate has been telling me.

 

He says the debt-collectors have been asking him if he has heard from me and he has told them that he hasn't, but obviously he is concerned that they will require him to foot the bill for the whole amount if I don't stump up the cash.

 

As far as I know there is no liability order in place as my flatmate tells me he has been paying his share of the bill off in monthly installments of £100 for the last 8 or 9 months. I believe that if there was a liability order in place they don't let you do this and simply demand payment in full. Consequently I believe it is not at the bailiff stage as yet and that they are just debt collectors.

 

As things stand I have asked my flatmate to come over to my flat to discuss and bring along all letters pertaining to this and a copy of the lease if he has one or managed to obtain one. He hasn't done this yet even after a week or so, so I am not sure what is going on anymore.

 

Anyway I will hold off as you suggest. Once my flatmate produces the letters and lease then I will look into the whole legality of it further and ask the council or the landlord for their records so I can judge it better.(NB: I am a little concerned I could make things worse if I contact the Council or the landlord about this before I am directly implicated.)

 

Many thanks for your help.

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As you are in Scotland there won't have been a Liability Order. In addition there are no bailiffs either. If you are being pursued by a debt collection agency this means that the Local Authority has obtained a Summary Warrant for the debt and passed it on to the DCA. This will have added an extra 10% to the outstanding balance and also allows the Sheriff Officer arm of the DCA to do diligence such as bank and wage arrestments.

 

Unfortunately I think that even if you did find that your lease included an agreement that your Council Tax was included in your rent the Local Authority would regard that as an arrangement between yourself and your landlord and would still make you liable for the Council Tax debt.

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