Occupation and CTB

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    I have an appeal in against a backdate and looking into the claim (CTB only) it appears that the claimant may not have occupied the property for all of the period of the backdate request.

    The claimant purchased a property in Sep 2004, Ctax deemed them liable for CTax however they did not move in to the property due to carrying out extensive repairs.

    The claimant becomes unemployed and makes a late claim for CTB, in the claim requests a backdate to March 2005. The backdate was refused and they appealed. On closer inspection it appears that utility bills show no water or gas being used for the period March to July 2005 so it is possible that the first time they occupied the property was when the CTB claim was made.

    I have considered that for the backdate we cannot pay because he was not in occupation of the property. However, CTax legislation discusses residency, which obviously he is to become liable for CTax and does not require occupation for CTB to be paid.

    Can anybody point me in the right direction of any regs that would allow me to address the fact that as they were not occupying the property as their normal home they are not liable for CTB.
    Does temporary absence apply when they have not occupied the property previously?


    The period covered by the claim for backdating straddles an important change in the law which was intended to deal with cases like this, but on the facts of your case I don’t think actually that the change in the law has covered all the angles.

    Before April 2005, the position was clear: residence is a billing decision and CTB simply followed the billing decision. If the claimant was being billed as a resident, the Council was obliged to treat that person as a resident who satisfied the threshold requirement for CTB as set out in s131 of the Contributions and Benefits Act. HB-related concepts of occupation had no bearing on CTB at all. Although the old CTB Regs 4B and 4C attempted to import the temporary absence rules into CTB, Commissioner confirmed in CH/2111/2003 that those Regs had no effect because they talked about the HB concept of occupation of the dwelling, and they were made under powers in the Conts and Bens Act that were really only relevant to HB.

    In April 2005 that changed. s131 of the Act allows the Sec of State to designate groups or individuals as “prescribed persons” or “classes” of persons who, although liable to pay CT as residents, are disqualified from CTB. There were two such groups in the past – students and people who aren’t habitually resident. April 2005 saw the addition of a third group: people who have been absent from home for longer than the maximum time allowed for HB purposes. The intention was to link the HB concept of occupation of a dwelling into CTB.

    But your case shows that there is a much wider conflict between the HB concept of occupation on the one hand, and the CT & CTB concept of residence on the other. Your council has decided that the claimant’s status in the property from 2004 onwards amounted to residence and billed him accordingly. The only way you can override that for CTB purposes is to measure the length of indivudual periods of absence falling after April 2005 and conclude that they have lasted longer than 13/52 weeks. As long as he comes and goes at least once every thirteen weeks, you have a resident who satisfies the threshold conditions for CTB.

    As we are talking about a period that is wholly in the past, as he now seems to be living in the property anyway, you are going to find it hard to show that he was absent for longer than 13 weeks after April 2005.

    So I think I would accept that the threshold eligibility conditions are met and go on to look at the good cause element.


    Could I just point out that a person can be liable for council tax even if they are not resident. If a property has been unoccupied for some time (usually over 6 months) then it will not be exempt and could attract a charge of 100% of the tax, depending on local decisions on empty property discounts.


    Just had second thoughts on this the claimant was liable because they were the owner of the property. Ctax did not classify them as resident and therfore applied the six month exemption after this expired the council applied its discretion re: charge. I think I will argue this case based on sole and main residence and therefore not resident and not eligible for CTB.

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