Penzance Town Centre

Penzance Town Centre

Thursday 16 May 2019

Council Tax - Class F Exemption/Cornwall Council restriction judged unlawful

Council Tax - Class F exemptions – Cornwall Council judged to be restricting entitlement unlawfully.  This is a bit specialist but it will affect hundreds of families in Cornwall every year dealing with an empty property following the death of a parent or grandparent.
The law allows exemption from Council Tax for rented and owned homes on the death of the sole occupier from the date of death until up to 6 months after the award of probate provide the property remains continuously unoccupied and nobody else is liable due to shared ownership or having their name on the tenancy agreement.  

Cornwall Council has been restricting this exemption to the date of the award of probate based upon its ‘discretion’.    This policy will be an ‘earner’ for Cornwall Council as there will be hundreds of instances a year of homes being sold after the death of a parent to settle the deceased parent’s will and sales take months and cannot be completed until after the award of probate.  The purpose of the Class F exemption is to provide a 6 month period of grace to settle the estate. 

This policy has recently resulted in an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal which was successful – Cornwall Council has had to refund over £500 of Council Tax which was not legally due.   Decisions by Valuation Tribunals (referred to as ‘lower tier’ judgements) do not set a legal precedent so this use of ‘discretion’ by Cornwall Council may continue.   For the judgement to set a legal precedent it has to be a ‘upper tier’ judgement (High Court).  No case concerning Class F exemptions has ever reached the High court because the costs well exceed the loss of up to 6 months Council Tax exemption.

Any refusal of a Class F exemption must first be appealed with Cornwall Council and only appealed to the Valuation Tribunal if refused by Cornwall Council.  Cornwall Council decision letters turning down appeals should identify the appellant’s right to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal but that did not happen in the case in question.  The first struggle was to get the Valuation Tribunal to accept the Cornwall Council decision letter as’ kosher’ because it not include any reference to the right to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.  Anybody confronted with a similar Class F problem can message me for more on this matter. 

Valuation Tribunal appeal number  0840M239634/283C .  The decision can be found at the link below by inserting the appeal number:  

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