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liable for council tax due to helping daughter get mortgage?

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Please bear with me as its a bit complicated.


When my daughter(2) bought her house she needed a guarantor. Her mortgage provider and solicitor explained that now there are no guarantors on mortgages, but the alternative is to be on her mortgage, but only with a 1% share to her 99%, all done legally by the solicitor. Apparently this is the norm now for parents to enable their kids to get onto the property ladder. That was not a problem as she is very good at paying her bills and has an exxcellent work ethic. She has just done a degree course at uni and has shared with other students as well as working to fund the mortgage. Hence she does not pay council tax.


I had a rented flat and was a self employed builder. Due to the credit crunch affecting the construction industry and getting ripped off by customers on some jobs, and going months with no work and no money, I suffered severe depression, and was on medication. I had to give up my flat and 'get on my bike' so to speak. I have been all over the country looking for work and staying with relatives and at b&b's, travelodges, and spending the odd weekend at home with my other daughters or my ex in-laws. When I left the flat I asked daughter(2) if I could get my post sent there, and she obviously said it was OK .


She has now recieved a summons for council tax non payment. On telephoning to enquire why they have said that because I am on the mortgage I am jointly liable and they belive this to be my sole residence. They also say that everyone in the UK has to pay council tax and that I have to supply a copy of my council tax bill at the address where I reside before they will reconsider. (That is where I resided for the period they are claiming I owe).


I feel really bad as obviously my daughter is upset about the summons. I have managed to come off my medication and have recently found employment outside construction but am earning very little at the moment. I obviously am going to have to pay this for her sake, but the annoying thing is that, because its a shared house, hers is the only one I have NEVER stayed at even 1 night!!!


The relatives I have stayed with in London and scotland already pay their full council tax, so I would never be able to get a copy of a council tax bill with my name on, and I didn't think during the time I stayed at digs and b&b's that I had to pay council tax?


I can't get my head round their rule that every adult in the uk has to pay council tax. I thought it was a property tax, not a person tax. As my ex father in law said, they pay full council tax already, so if I lived with them it would be nothing to do with the council, and I would have no council tax liability.


My business losses were so bad last year that I aubmitted a zero ta return with losses carried over. Had I known I was liable for this council tax (at a place I do not live!!!) I would have claimed council tax benefit and paid it monthly.


So my questions (at last!!!) are :-

1. I know there is no point challenging this as I have been told that the council are a law unto themselves and extremely unreasonable and inflexible. But is there a possibility of me claiming backdated council tax? I am aware that they are very strict and not knowing you were entitled to benefit is not good enough, but I diddn't even know I had to pay it. Is there any valid reason I could apply to have it backdated?


2. Will they let me pay in installments, as I do not have the funds to pay in full.


Sorry for the long post but this is really making me depressed again as the council are basically saying I am lying and I know I am not. Also I know many other parents help their children in this way, and maybe aren't aware that they would be liable for council tax if they weren't named on another council tax bill.

Edited by john
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Hi John, sorry to hear about your current situation, I agree that the rule on this is silly but council tax regulations can often be a bit silly (such as a sole occupant receiving 25% discount, but for a second home that is vacant most of the year round receiving only 10% discount!).


I think the situation here is that everyone is deemed to have a main residence. You might not actually be physically living at your daughter's house but because that is where you are having your post delivered that's why the council have added you to her bill. It's the same situation for people who go travelling.


Your daughter should have been sent a revised bill from the council once they had added you to the account. They are legally obliged to do this every time they make a change to an account which affects the amount to be paid. She should also have been sent at least one reminder notice (probably two) and a final notice before the council can issue a summons. If your daughter didn't receive any of these you may want to query this with the council.


If she is a student living in a house with just other students then I do believe you should be able to have a single occupancy discount applied to the account, if that has not been done already, as students are completely disregarded from paying.


1. I know there is no point challenging this as I have been told that the council are a law unto themselves and extremely unreasonable and inflexible. But is there a possibility of me claiming backdated council tax? I am aware that they are very strict and not knowing you were entitled to benefit is not good enough, but I diddn't even know I had to pay it. Is there any valid reason I could apply to have it backdated?

I presume you mean try to get council tax benefit backdated? I'm certainly no expert and so could be completely wrong on this, so perhaps see what others say or try asking in the benefits forum as well. This will sound totally ridiculous, but it may be the case that because you aren't living there, you can't claim. As I said, this could be totally wrong so please check with others.


2. Will they let me pay in installments, as I do not have the funds to pay in full.

Yes they will allow you to pay in instalments. Unfortunately, in order to do that the council have to obtain a liability order which means that this debt will have to go court. It's nothing to worry about, you don't even have to attend and it won't affect your credit rating in any way. This means you will have additional court costs added onto the debt - this is usually another lot of however much the court costs were on the summons. What the council can then do is make a payment arrangement with you. You get to choose how much you can pay back - this should be a realistic amount both in terms of how much you can afford and how long it would take to clear the debt - the frequency of the payments, and what date you make payments by. Please be aware that because this account will be a liability order stage it is really important that you stick to the arrangement. If you aren't going to be able to make a payment then you need to contact the council straight away, as having a liability order against you means they have further recovery powers, including attachment of earnings and benefits.


I hope this answers your questions. Please try not to fret about it and I hope you get it sorted :)

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Thanks for the reply. As you say, hopefully someone will be able to give me some advice regarding the backdated benefits. This situation seems rediculous to me, I could understand it if it were poll tax which was a per person tax, but council tax is not poll tax.

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Although everyone has to have a "sole or main" residence not everyone has a Council Tax liability. An example being grown up kids still living with parents who own the home. You could argue that as you have never lived at your daughter's home it cannot be deemed as being your sole or main residence. Your only real connection is that your mail goes there. The mortgage issue, I would argue, is not relevant as it is not uncommon for a parent or child to have a financial interest in a family member's property e.g. child putting up the money for parents to buy their Council House.


I was once involved in a case where a couple returning to the UK bought a house. The wife came home first and the husband followed 6 months later. She claimed for and was granted a 25% single occupancy discount on the grounds that although they both owned the property it could not be regarded as his sole or main residence until he actually moved into the house. It may be worth your while approaching the Council with this arguement. A lot of Council Tax legislation is open to interpretation and you never know you may be able to persuade them.


You would not be entitled to Council Tax Benefit at your daughter's address as you have never been resident in the property.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Folks,


Just a thought, but logically, surely the heirarchy rule comes in to play here, ie, that the resident freeholder is higher up the pecking order than the non-resident freeholder and thus the daughter should be responsible for the account; and being a student along with student sharers, exempt?


Not that logic comes into it, because I am fighting the sole/main resident case for where my daughter lived (well effectively lost it unless I can sort out a Judicial Review!). I moved out in March 06 and have not spent one night there since, and I HAVE paid full council tax and business rates on my main residence, which is dual banded! Still they deem that I have to pay because it was my intention to return! Out of curiosity, can one have two main/sole residences? I do not think so.


Good luck anyway.


JQ :-)

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