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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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We rented a property (12-month agreement) in Maidstone but

Customer Question

We rented a property (12-month agreement) in Maidstone but we were released from the agreement by the letting agency after 4 months (due to landlord not wishing to correct many issues in the home, including broken window, raining in, etc.). We moved out of this property--our deposit was returned shortly thereafter--and took up a lease on a different property in a different council area where we pay council tax.

We do NOT have a termination notice of the agreement (with the landlord's signature)--despite having requested this from the letting agency several times--but do have a letter from the letting agency indicating that the landlord released us from the contract. We have received a notice from the local council indicating that we owe council tax for the entire 12 months (because they have a copy of the original signed agreement, won't consider the letter from the letting agency, won't get involved in the dispute, and the landlord told them we were still responsible). What is our position with regard to having to pay this council tax? We received a final notice today indicating that we had until July 3rd to pay (£325.22 + £51.60). Surely, if we received our deposit back in full this is an indication that the agreement was terminated appropriately.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.

Alex Watts : 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 You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : Won't the landlord say its been terminated at all please? Do you have any other evidence of when you moved out?
JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

Dear Alex. I don't have contact with the landlord so can't say what she will say. My understanding from letting agency is that she agreed to this being terminated (see attached letter). Likewise, my understanding from the Council is that she has acknowledged we had left the that we vacated the proerty

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JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

...apologies sent too soon...

JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

...Likewise, my understanding from the Council is that she has acknowledged that we had vacated the property (without acknowledging to them that she agreed to this per the letter from Sunflower Lettings) but indicated that we were still responsible--per the original agreement--until someone else moved in and assumed responsibility.

JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

I have sent the attached letter to the Council but they have decided to ignore it. In a phone call to me they indicated that they would only say that they do not get in the middle of personal disputes.

JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

I have also attached the bank statement showing the refund of the full deposit in December.

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JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

Amount is 1836.93 (20 Dec: Ref: Mollison/48 Salisbury)

Alex Watts :

You need to write to the Chief Officers office of the Council and set out your complaint.

Alex Watts :

I really do not see why the letter from the letting agency is not enough. The Council can write to the agency, with your permission to verify the terms and when the lease ended.

Alex Watts :

If the Council do not respond or the response is not good then you can complain to the Ombudsman

Alex Watts :

They offer a free independent service and their website is; www.lgo.org.uk

Alex Watts :

But I really do not see why the Council won't accept this, it is very strange

Alex Watts :

But write to the Chief Officers office and make a formal complaint. Enclose the letter from the agency

Alex Watts :

That should resolve the problem

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

The timeframe doesn't seem conducive to continue inquiries in writing (either to the Chief Officer's office or Ombudsman) since this will affect my credit if not paid by July 3. Would you advise paying this now and then continuing with the strategy suggested? I am doubtful that contacting the Council

JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

...will change their view since they already stated that they will not get involved (i.e. will not write to the agency per your suggestion), and have already seen the letter.

JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

What I want to know from you is whether there is a legal requirement to supply other evidence (e.g. a termination agreement signed by the landlord--I don't know if this exists, I didn't sign one), or whether the evidence I supplied (letter from the agency indicating the landlord's position, and the release of the deposit--which presumably has to be authorised by the landlord) would stand up in court as being sufficient evidence that the landlord was a willing party in the termination of the agreement.

Alex Watts : Is there a legal requirement - no.
Alex Watts : This is not required by the Housing Act.
Alex Watts : If it goes to court you can oppose the application for a liability order and provide evidence as I have suggeted aomce.
Alex Watts : aboce
Alex Watts : above
Alex Watts : The letter from the agency you shown previously should suffice.
Alex Watts : Does that clarify matters?
JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

It does but it begs the question, why do they not consider this evidence appropriate now?

Alex Watts : I have no idea.
Alex Watts : It makes no sense whatsoever.
JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

I agree... but the final demands still come

JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

By "Chief officer" do you mean "chief executive"?

Alex Watts : Some Councils have a Chief Officer, some have a Chief Executive.
Alex Watts : Does that help?
JACUSTOMER-sfxsjyy1- :

OK, I'll contact and let you know the outcome.

Alex Watts :

Great.

Alex Watts :

If I could invite you to rate my answer before you go

Alex Watts :

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Alex Watts :

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Alex Watts :

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