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Nicola-mod
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Council tax question: Homeowner whose main residence is

Customer Question

Council tax question:

Homeowner whose main residence is in the UK. They have been abroad for 6 years and recently came back. Prior to departing on urgent family business (ill relative), they prepped the house i.e. notified and paid uitility bills and took reasonable security precautions. The only thing they forgot to do was notifiy the council that the property is going to be unoccupied and therefore not eligible for council tax.

Upon returning, within 48hrs a hand delivered solicitor letter informed them that the council will sell the property to recover the council tax debt. The amount is payable but all attempts to contact the council- email/phone/in person has been rebuffed. The council has given them 48hrs to vacate the property. What is the best course of action in order to contest/delay the sale and how to go about it?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

AlexWatts2013 :

Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. For now please let me know is this because of a liability order? Why was the Council not notified within the 6 years please?

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

There is no evidence of any liability orders, the house looks like a bomb site. She was just handed the letter stating that the council is going to take possession of it and she needs to vacate the property within 48 hrs. I think she forgot to notify the council before going abroad, ignorance yes but surely this is excessive especially since once she came back and found out the situation she has been trying to pay back the debt.

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

All correspondence was sent to the house, which was unoccupied so she would not have received them (she did not find any further letters when she came back though).

AlexWatts2013 :

I assume the Council has some sort of order as they must have in order to take these steps. The process is this, you get reminders, then they apply to the Court for a liability order, then they can apply for a charging order then they can sell the property.

AlexWatts2013 :

Even if she did notify them that she was not there, all that you would get is a 6 month exemption and that means 5 and a half years would still be accounted for and under new rules empty properties are charged at 150% of the annual rate.

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

how can she delay the sale and settle the debt?

AlexWatts2013 :

What you can do is apply to the Court to suspend any warrant of eviction but it would be a matter for the Court to decide whether the arrears can be paid off over a reasonable period. What is reasonable is a matter for discretion for a Judge.

AlexWatts2013 :

If this fully resolves your question then please take a moment before you leave and rate my service, it only takes a second and is an important part of the process. Otherwise if you need more information or help then please click reply. Alex

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

How can I apply to the court to suspend the warrant of eviction?

AlexWatts2013 :

Has a possession order been granted?

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

the letter had an attached "order for sale following a charging order"

AlexWatts2013 :

Then you need to apply to the Court to suspend it using form N244

If this fully resolves your question then please take a moment before you leave and rate my service, it only takes a second and is an important part of the process. Otherwise if you need more information or help then please click reply. Alex

AlexWatts2013 :

That is the link and there will be a Court fee of about £40

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

who should I give the form to?

AlexWatts2013 :

Take it to your local County Court - there will be a hearing which needs to be attended.

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

is there any further advice you may add? What do think are her chances of retaining the property?

AlexWatts2013 :

To be honest if she can pay it off within 12 months then good, otherwise unlikely.

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

lol she can pay it tomorrow but they are not letting her! I suspect they want the house for their social house scheme thats why I wanted some independent advice. She went to the CAB but they just fobbed her off. Should she get a solicitor and if so what area of law should she be looking to getting one?

AlexWatts2013 :

She should apply to the court to suspend and in that case the Court should allow payment. She should also keep a record of the dates she try to pay and it was refused

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

does she need a lawyer? because they all told her to get one, referred her to a property lawyer charging £200/hr. English is not her first language but she is not stupid, just in shock.

AlexWatts2013 :

She can take a lawyer but she could do it herself, but she needs to apply asap for the order to suspend.

AlexWatts2013 :

As in be at the Court Counter tomorrow at 10am when it opens

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

are you sure it opens at 10am? is this the address:

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

Priory Courts
33 Bull Street
Birmingham West Midlands
England
B4 6DS

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- : Birmingham Civil Justice Centre and Family Courts
AlexWatts2013 :

The Counter opens at 10am, the building 9am

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

ok thanks

AlexWatts2013 :

Please remember to rate my service - thanks

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

so filling in the form- I want the court to "suspend any act of eviction, taking possession and sale of the property, in order for defendant to settle debts with the claimant" do I need to write anything else?

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

How do you want to have this application dealt with? - with or without a hearing?!

AlexWatts2013 :

Yes that is correct. It is with a hearing as there will be one.

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

I think she will need a lawyer if there is going to be a hearing, not good if she is going to court on her own.

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

what type of lawyer would be best to contact, tax or property lawyer?

AlexWatts2013 :

Housing lawyer.

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

do you know of any based in birmingham?

AlexWatts2013 :

I can not recommend but go to: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor/

JACUSTOMER-mzx6ule0- :

housing is not one of the categories

AlexWatts2013 :

I was looking for you - debt and money

AlexWatts2013 :

Can I help you further?

Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

Just a quick reminder, there is an unrated answer waiting for you here from the Professional.

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Thank you,
Nicola

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