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Monday Morning And The Court Papers Have Arrived: The Joys Of Property Ownership

Boy, do I love Monday mornings.

Especially when they start with a court summons.

Which is how my Monday has started.

Always a great start to the week: be in court at 09.45 on Wednesday 7th August for unpaid council tax of £915.10.

And it’s got a “lovingly” sketched swirly signature of some Clerk of the Court.  I can’t make out the name – “A Sweden” or something – but anyway, whoever the swirly signature is from, it is: BY ORDER OF THE COURT.

And I have to confess it looks pretty serious.  It’s not like one of those fake parking tickets you can buy on eBay to wind up your friends.  Nope, this summons looks pretty kosha.

So I look at the address to which the unpaid council tax is due and why I am now being summoned to court to pay this.  And immediately I clock it’s for a property which became vacant and then was tenanted again about three months ago.

I’m pretty sure I told the council about the new tenant as I know how rigorous they can be in extracting council tax – especially in these stretched economic times.

So I do a search through my emails and I find the email which I had duly sent to the council tax department some three months previous.

So I call the council and ask: WTF is going on???

To which the nice sounding lady in the debt recovery team asks if I mind being held on “hold”

Of course, I did mind, however I murmured my assent and let them get on with “holding me”.

Three minutes later and the nice debt recovery lady is back on the phone and I can hear her blushing down the phone to me.

“Miss Collett, may I offer you our unreserved apology for this oversight and the upset this must have caused you.  We do have your email informing us of the new tenant details.  I have no idea how this got missed and I can only apologise.  I will cancel the court action with immediate effect and ensure this file is updated at once”

And so fellow landlords and property investors let this be a lesson to you: email the council tax department as soon as a new tenant moves in – and keep a copy of that email for your files…you never know when you may need it!

  1. Lee

    Wow, lesson learned! I think I let my tenants take care of organising there own council tax and utilities, I did of course cancel my accounts. I was lucky this time but a note has been taken!

    1. Sam

      Thanks Lee and glad it’s useful. Unfortunately these details can be overlooked in the excitement of moving and so it’s very important you ensure you contact the authorities.

  2. Lynne

    Glad you had the evidence and they were so quick to back down! We always inform the council and utility suppliers of a change of occupancy – best not to rely on the tenant doing it, because if they don’t then you’ll continue to be chased for the bills. It’s also a good idea to give them each an electoral roll form to fill in, and submit it on their behalf; dodgy tenants who are trying to cover their tracks may be reluctant (so advising them at application stage that this will be required can be a good way to weed out undesirables) but genuine ones will appreciate that it’s good for their credit record.

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