I am in discussion with a council about the availability of council tax exemption in relation to a deceased estate. Forum members will be familiar with the Class F exemption which usually applies in relation to the deceased’s property from date of death up to 6 months after the grant is issued.
In this case the property was not occupied by the deceased (who was in a care home at death) but was rented out. The tenant was paying and continued to pay council tax until he vacated, which was after the death but still within the 6 month period after the grant was issued. I have claimed the Class F exemption and the council argues that it does not apply as the deceased was not the last occupant of the property at the point they passed away.
As far as I can tell, the Council Tax (exempt dwellings) Order 1992 provides the following definition of an exempt property under class F:
“An unoccupied dwelling in relation to which a person is a qualifying person in his capacity as personal representative, if either no Grant of Probate or of Letters of Administration has been made, or less than six months have elapsed since the date on which such Grant was made”.
I have pointed out to the council that the regulation makes no reference to the dwelling being the residence of the deceased or to the deceased being the last occupant of the property, but they have now responded (after 6 weeks deliberation) setting out their own criteria for the class F exemption, which includes the following words “A dwelling which has been unoccupied since the owner or tenant died…” I have asked for the legislative reference to support this approach but they have simply referred me to the Local Government & Finance Act 1991 and subsequent amendments.
Can anyone tell me if the 1992 Order has been amended or if there is any other legitimate basis for the council to modify the criteria in this way? Or has anyone else had similar or different experience with a council?