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Council Tax Summons on an empty Property***Resolved***

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Afternoon all,

 

My mum passed away 2 years ago in May 2016, she left a Will and 3 executors in charge of it. Not sure why she didn't have a lot bless her.

 

They started sending bills soon after my mum died despite me telling them the house was empty and we were waiting for probate. Probate was finally granted in October 2017. My brother and I have no intention of selling it.

 

I received a bill of £668 and paid £334 beginning of Jan, I then received a letter to my home which is not in the same city, saying the remaining amount was due by 31 March. I wrote it down and blatantly forgot. My fault. As soon as I remembered I paid it but 2 weeks too late! I set up a DD for 2018/19.

 

In the meantime I get a text from on of they executors saying they have issued a court summons.

 

They have my details on file yet wrote to someone else. The balance of £668 is clear but they want the court summons fee.

 

I'm happy (not happy as such as it's a lot on top of my own bills) to pay the council tax and have done so but why should I pay for a court summons that you sent to an address because as they said "someone in admin must have taken the executive decision to".

 

I don't understand? When the payment was late why not just write and say we are still waiting for the second payment as agreed? instead they went straight to summons and then sent it to a random person who they don't have on file?

 

Can I challenge the court fees?

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instead they went straight to summons and then sent it to a random person who they don't have on file?

 

 

Who is the "random person"? Sounds like it was one of the executors. If so they aren't a "random person", they're the people with the legal responsibility to pay the bills due from the Estate.

 

Are you an Executor?

 

Are you and your brother the joint beneficiaries of the Estate? Have the Executors now transferred legal ownership of the house to you and your brother? Is it still empty?

 

Council Tax on empty houses is often waived for a period of time after someone dies. What is the local council's policy in this case (should be on their website)?

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I say "random person" because when I asked the council who they wrote to they couldn't tell me. They had an address on file and just wrote to it. It is one of the executors but not the one they have been corresponding with. When I asked which executor they had on file, they gave me all of their details. Surely it would have made sense to write to that person. Furthermore I have been corresponding with them and they have all of my details, I am at a loss as to why they didn't continue to write to me. All the previous bills, and the online account is registered to me.

 

No I'm not an executor I'm a beneficiary along with my brother. We are not legal owners of the house yet. It is empty.

 

Their website says "Apply for exemption on properties that have been: Empty after the death of the owner while probate is obtained or up to six months after probate is granted. The additional six months are available provided the property remains part of the estate and has not been left in its entirety to an individual(s)"

 

I'm not querying the council tax, and like I said it has been pain albeit with great difficulty. My issue is being liable for the cost of a court summons that wasn't addressed to anybody they have on file to an address that they have had no previous correspondence with.

 

My question is can I challenge the amount for the court summons?

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The council have a duty to only deal with named executors...not beneficiaries ...as the court claim is not in your name...only the named person can deal with the issue costs.

 

 

Andy


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The council have found that a charge has become due and billed the estate - the estate will remain liable until someone else becomes responsible for the council tax charge. Whilst the estate is liable then executors, not yourself are responsible for sorting the issue. You are not an executor so currently have no legal status in administering the estate, that is why they have contacted the executors.

 

The other problem you may however have is that of you being beneficiary to the property - this causes no end of problems in respect of council tax and death. For example read the decision on this case - http://info.valuation-tribunals.gov.uk/decision_document.asp?appeal=/decision_documents/documents/CT_England/1540M208374037C.htm&Decision=liability

and

http://info.valuation-tribunals.gov.uk/decision_document.asp?appeal=/decision_documents/documents/CT_England/4705M171273254C.htm&Decision=liability

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All sorted. I requested a call back from a manager. It just so happens it was the same lady I spoke to two years ago when my mum died and remembered how traumatic it was.

 

Even though I am a beneficiary, they have been writing to me for the past two years as that was agreed when I spoke to her.

She explained that even though they had received the first half of the bill from me when the second half was late someone had decided to write to one of the addresses on file as they thought I might not pay the rest. Odd that they chose the one they did as one of the executors had already registered herself as named contact for the council tax. They really should have and could have written to her.

 

We discussed that when people are bereaved they have so much going and a lot is confusing it would be helpful if the council was consistent with their admin.

 

She accepted that they could have handled it better and cancelled the court fees.

 

Very happy :whoo:

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Even though I am a beneficiary, they have been writing to me for the past two years as that was agreed when I spoke to her.

They should not be contacting or discussing the account with you without the express agreement of the executors - big breach of data protection rules if they don't have that permission.

 

Odd that they chose the one they did as one of the executors had already registered herself as named contact for the council tax. They really should have and could have written to her.

With multiple executors it's up to the council who they pursue for contact - if they don't get payment from one of them then it is entirely sensible to contact another.

 

She accepted that they could have handled it better and cancelled the court fees.

Good result .

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