CTB on two homes

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    Can anyone help ?

    Claimant is treated as LTAHAW with partner who lives in the maisonette opposite. No property large enough is available, so their Housing Assoc seal off the the communal area between the the two properties, effectively making one big enough for them all.

    They are still liable for two rents & two lots of CT.

    I can pay HB using Reg 7(6) (c) & Secretary of State for Work & Pensions v Miah (2003) but what about CTB ?

    Any clues ?


    The only option I can think of is to ask the CT section to amend the liability in some way to reflect the fact that both maisonettes are, in effect, one property.

    I suppose one partner could claim the CTB for maisonette 2 if they won’t change liability but you’d have to make sure that the reasons for the unusual situation is well annotated. You can be sure that an auditor would pick it to check if you don’t.

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................


    Whilst it may be appropriate for the VOA to look at the setup I personally don’t think it’s particularly crucial to payment of CTB. I think you could legitimately pay both liabilities having decided that the whole structure is their home.

    Gets ready to be shot down in flames…………


    There is a slight complication here, which is s134(2) of the Contributions and Benefits Act. It says that two members of the same “family” cannot both get the same means-tested benefit at the same time. This would prevent you from awarding each of them CTB for his/her respective liability based on an aggregated means test. And you cannot award CTB to one of them on both liabilities because, I assume, the claimant would not actually be liable for one of the amounts claimed so s131 would not be satisfied. Section 134(2) is obviously not intended for this kind of situation – it’s just a technical necessity to make it impossible for people to claim duplicate awards. Here the awards would not be duplicates – there are two different tax liabilities to meet. So how do you get round it?

    I am assuming that the Council Tax position is that each of them is regarded as resident only in their own unit and therefore each of them is solely liable for their own Council Tax. They cannot be jointly liable as a couple because that rule only applies where both members of the couple are resident … and since there are two dwellings for taxation purposes they cannot both be resident in both of them.

    Obviously what’s needed here is for the converted dwellings to be valued as a single unit. In the meantime, I think the only proper “joined up” approach you can take here is to disaggregate them for means-testing purposes and award each of them CTB as a single person for their own liabilities. The only way CTB can work properly is if the household for means-testing mirrors the household for liability. Any CTB decision you make now is likely to be only temporary in any case, because the properties should end up being retrospectively valued as a single unit.

    Julian Hobson

    Perhaps this gets even more complicated.

    If they are LTAHAW then they must be part of the same “household”, Reg 21 (HB) reg 11 (CTb) deals with the situation where a member of the household might be temporarily absent from it but continue to be treated as part of it. The analysis on page 15 of the new cpag is useful in establishing what a household is. From what you have described they should be treated as one Household for benefit purposes irrespective of any CT liability issue. I don’t see how you could come to a different decision on the two benefits faced with the same facts.

    Whether the two props can or will be treated by the VOA as one or two dwellings for CT is an interesting one. In my experience you are unlikely to get the VOA to change their mind without ripping the Kitchen out of one of them !

    If they are two dwellings for CT purposes then as a Billing authority you would have to decide sole or main residence. If you decide that one of them is resident in each property then 75% of the Ct is due on each (150%), If you decide one of the props is empty (with no residents) and you have voted for a reduced discount then upto 90% of the tax is due on that property (not unfurnished, empty second home) and 100% on the other one. (190%).

    s131(3)(a) requires a CT claimant to be resident and I think its sufficient (unless the new reg 8 (CT) applies) to use the definition of residence used in the CT liability decision. It would be perverse to raise a 90% charge because they are not resident and then award CTB based on residence.

    I can’t think of a sensible solution to the problem apart from the removal of the kitchen that isn’t used !

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