'Uninhabitable' Wakefield property owner who claimed he 'shouldn't have to pay council tax' has complaint rejected by Ombudsman

A property owner who claimed he should not be charged council tax for an "uninhabitable" house has had his complaint rejected.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 9:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 9:48 am
The owner claimed he already paid council tax at the home he lived in.

A ruling by the Local Government Ombudsman has decided that the man was correctly billed premium rates by Wakefield Council because the home had been empty for two years.

The local authority has welcomed the verdict.

In its report, the Ombudsman said the property owner, referred to as Mr X, bought the house in September 2020 to renovate it. It had been empty and unfurnished since December 2018.

Wakefield Council welcomed the ruling.

The council began charging Mr X double council tax from December 2020 because it had been empty for two years by that point.

The policy was brought in by the authority in 2019 in a bid to tackle the housing shortage and force landlords sitting on empty properties to take action.

The Ombudsman said Mr X complained, "he should not have to pay council tax due to the condition of the property and because he does not receive any services.

"He said he was trying to restore a property and he pays council tax for the property he lives in.

The report said that the property owner described the home as "uninhabitable" in trying to make his case.

But in its verdict, the Ombudsman said the council had "correctly billed Mr X" and the charges were consistent with its policy.

In response, the council's chief finance officer Neil Warren said: “We are pleased with the Ombudsman’s ruling that council tax was correctly charged to this property as it was empty and unfurnished.

"The premium on empty homes was introduced as an incentive to bring properties back into use and as demand for housing is increasing across the district, it is important to keep the number of empty homes down.

"We are always willing to work with residents to make alternative arrangements if the premium causes them financial problems."

Local Democracy Reporting Service