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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I bought a property with one title. The previous owner had

Resolved Question:

Hi ,
I bought a property with one title. The previous owner had an extension which he rented out as well as the main building. And his tenants were paying two council tax bills. Now, I applied to merge them as I'm using it as one house plus to avoid 2 council tax bills. My merging application was refused. Please see attached.
They are taking me to the court as I was not paying the second council tax for the extension. Both properties have separate entrances. However, there is a type of corridor leading from main house to the extension. One does not have to 'physically ' go outdoors.
I will be removing the kitchen from the extension property as there is no need for it. Will this make any difference? I need quick fix advice on what I need to do to avoid unnecessary council tax.
Thanking you in advance for your kind input.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 month ago.

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

  1. May I confirm at present there is both a kitchen and a bathroom in the "annexe" if that would be the right term?
  2. Is there a lockable door between the two parts of the building?
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Hi,
1- Yes Kitchen and bathroom in each property. However, are currently in process of converting the kitchen to a room.
2- There is a lockable door in between the two parts of the building, however, it is easily removable or changeable to unlockable if required.
Please find attached pictures of the door and the deed. Also the refusal letter for merging.
I want one bill on the property and to avoid court procedure which i have already been informed of and have a court hearing on 28th October. I am travelling in two weeks and really need everything sorted before I go.
Thanking you in advance.
Kind Regards
Hafeez
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 month ago.

Thank you. The starting point for this is the council acting via its council tax officer has discretion in these circumstances as to whether to class the (can we call it an annexxe for expediency) annexxe for a separate council tax band. He must have regard to the level of modification the property has undergone when considering whether to charge separately or not. Your main Achilles heel is likely to be the kitchen as you suspect as case law has repeatedly affirmed that the presence of a separate kitchen can be prima facie evidence of a separate dwelling as discussed below.

The below are relevant decisions by the courts which have been the result of challenges to council and valuation office decisions.

Clement –v- Brian – High Court

Bedsit units with a wc and a wash hand basis in a separate cloakroom. Bedsitting area with a fully equipped kitchen in a separate room. No shower or bath. There were communal bathing facilities. The absence of a bath or shower did not take the property (which was otherwise self contained) outside the definition of self contained so the unit was separately banded.

James V Williams

Four units, each unit had a living room, kitchen (one of the units instead had a kitchen/living room) and bedroom. All units shared a combined bathroom/wc and a separate wc compartment. However, one did have its own wc as well. It was assessed as four separate units.

Neale ex parte Moore – Court of Appeal

Consideration of status of a bed sitting room and kitchen of which the tenant had the sole use. Shared use of bathroom and wc by 13 tenants. Separate banding upheld.

You will likely need to give consideration to removing the second kitchen and then appealing the decision.To appeal initially you can write to your council, saying why you think your decision is wrong. If you appeal is rejected following a further inspection you can appeal the Valuation Tribunal using the below link. If you appeal with the kitchen still in situ case law is against you though each situation does turn on its own circumstance. To maximise your chances of success removing the kitchen and any significant locks on any adjoining door will give you the best chance of success.

https://www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk/forms/appeal-forms/

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thanks,
Waht apout the outside door ( main entrance for the scond property)
Do we need to remove it ?
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 month ago.

There is no restriction on having additional external dooors to your property or annexe. As you can see from the above cases, the trust of the case law is removing features which lead to a conclusion that part of the property is self contained accomodation. The principal focus will be on the kitchen and then secondary to that will be softening any internal division between the annex and the rest of your property - e.g. removal of any "external style" locks on any dividing door. There is nothing stopping you having a lock on an internal door, but ideally it should be an internal door and lock that you would expect to find on an internal door.

Has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?

Expert:  Joshua replied 1 month ago.

I'm just following up on our above conversation. I hope the above was of some assistance. Please let me know if you have any further queries. If you have a moment I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating to rate my service or alternatively just provide some brief feedback so I know if I was able to help. I'd be most grateful. All the best

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