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hightail

Must you tell the council a house is empty if CT paid for the year? - ** RESOLVED **

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My elderly aunt went into residential care last week and I want to give myself time to work out what's best to do with the house. She is totally self funded and there's no need to sell. Her CT was paid up front last April for the whole year. I know the property would be exempt CT for a while but all the wording I find on the subject says 'until the house is sold'. Does anyone know if there's a limit on this? If there is can I just let sleeping dogs lie until next year and pick when I get my free six months - or whatever it is. I don't want to apply for a refund of monies already paid only to find I've then exhausted a CT exempt period and them start to charge me double if I can avoid it.

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From memory, hightail, there was no council tax payable while my mother was alive, the time limit was once she passed away.

 

You might check with the council as rules may change. Maybe they'll do a refund?

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Oh, thank you. We would definitely be due a refund for the remaining months of this financial year but I didn't want to shake a hornets' nest and find out it actually cost her money. She only went into the care home last week and it's down as respite with a view to permanent. There's no way she's ever going to come out though. It's me that isn't ready to rush into cutting all ties with her home so I want time to consider and consult on rental possibilities as well as selling the place.

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Does the council have a website, hightail?

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Yes it does but sod's law applies and there isn't the information specific to this situation :) Everywhere I look it's assumed that the house must be sold to fund the care and this doesn't apply in this case - at least not for a few years yet.

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I'm not sure who you would talk to, but my mother was self funded and the house was free of council tax.

 

Have you tried AgeUK in the area where your aunt lived/lives? They helped me so much.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I found this on the government website.

 

When you don’t pay Council Tax

 

If you’re selling an empty property on behalf of an owner who’s died, you only start paying Council Tax 6 months after you get probate.

Some homes don’t get a Council Tax bill for as long as they stay empty. They include homes:

 

  • of someone in prison (except for not paying a fine or Council Tax)
  • of someone who’s moved into a care home or hospital
  • that have been repossessed
  • that can’t be lived in by law, for example if they’re derelict
  • that are empty because they’ve been compulsory purchased and will be demolished

I'd say it's still best to check with the council though.

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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You're a star - second one on that list looks very hopeful.

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It's certainly how it worked with my mother. :) Please let us know how you get on.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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The Class E exemption for being resident in a care home runs as long as is required - until the property is sole/tenancy ends or someone moves in. The requirement is that property ceases to be her 'sole or main residence' due to the move in to the care home.

 

Strictly speaking the circumstances where you have to declare a change to the council for council tax purposes are quite limited - if there was no discount or exemption in place then you're not required to tell them unless they make a formal application to gather the information (which they can do in specified cases)

 

If she was living on her own, getting a single person discount and hasn't declared that single person discount entitlement has ended then that would be a breach of legislation and can be subject to a penalty (potentially further legal action for discount fraud but that's highly unlikely in this sort of case) if not reported within 21 days. Once the council have that information then they can make the determination off their own back as to what discounts/exemptions then apply.

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Thanks to honeybee's advice I rang her council today and let them know. She'll get a refund as we paid her CT in full for the year in April and her property will, as you say, be exempt for as long as it remains unoccupied. I am mightily relieved I don't have to rush to clear it out, I was worried I'd need to empty it not to be charged more and was looking to buy a bit of time as I don't live close. All in all I'm pleasantly surprised her house is not now classed as a second home.

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That's great news, hightail and the refund is a bonus. :) Thank you for letting us know.

 

With my mother, once it was known she was staying in the care home, the council asked for a letter from the home to confirm, which they were happy to do.

 

I wouldn't rush to clear the house, you have enough on your plate. We used to stay in my mother's house when we went to visit, it made a useful base.

 

I'll change your thread title so it helps other people to know the outcome, but please keep posting if you have other questions.

 

HB

Edited by honeybee13

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I wouldn't rush to clear the house

 

However, it would be a good idea to place any valuables & sentimental items in secure storage.

 

It would also be a good idea to get gas/electricity switched to a zero standing charge tariff to reduce any unnecessary expenditure.


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Good points, Mr P. And consider cutting off the phone line.

 

HB


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Thanks for all these thoughts. I spent two days 'tidying' and cleaning including making sure there was nothing of value left in the house. This mainly meant things like passports, in her case every one she ever had from the 1950s to the present day! Not obviously valuable as such to us but of use to the less than honest. My poor daughter spent hours at the shredder - everything with her bank details including every single cheque stub from every single cheque book used over decades went that way and anything which might be used for an identity theft was dealt with appropriately.

 

I'm very lucky that there are neighbours on either side who have done more than their share of looking after my aunt for years and will continue to twitch the net curtains for me. They each have a key to the new locks on front and back which I had changed within hours of her leaving the property. Over the past couple of years I'll bet there were keys given to or taken by any number of people - all with good and honest reason.

 

One real find was a pack of three timers in Argos with very useful presets. They can very easily be set in 'random' mode which makes lamps switch on for between 9 and 31 minutes at random times between 8pm and 8am. This will quite closely mimic the actions of an elderly person with dementia and the neighbours have confirmed they are working well. I set one in the lounge as you would an ordinary timer to come on between 6pm and 8pm and the other two in the lounge and the bedroom on random.

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That sounds like a productive day, hightail and well done to your daughter for pitching in. :)

 

Lamps on timers sound a great idea, it's what we did and having good neighbours is also a plus.

 

HB


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