Landlord slams council over £1,200 tax charge

David Scothern.
David Scothern.

A landlord and property developer operating in Skegness has criticised East Lindsey District Council after being hit with a £1,200 tax bill for an uninhabitable property.

David Scothern was angered to receive a letter requesting he pay the back-dated council tax for a second flat of two he had begun to renovate on Seaview Road.

Mr Scothern said he bought the flats 18 months ago and said they were not fit for living in.

He re-furbished the first flat and was about to start the other when he received the bill for £1,200. It was also stated that in future an extra 50 per cent charge would be applied because the property had been empty for so long.

Mr Scothern said when he approached the council and told them of the situation he was informed he would still have to pay.

He now has a letter from the housing standards officer stating that in his opinion the flat is inhabitable. Subsequently, a prohibition order has been placed on the property so that no more council tax can be applied.

Mr Scothern said he was initially willing to fight the bill through the court if necessary.

He said: “As a professional landlord I thought to stand up for the people and argue the case, as it is clearly unfair and unjust. If I were to attend the court and lose I would be the proud owner of a CCJ (County 
Court Judgement).”

He said this would have left it ‘almost impossible’ to get a loan or mortgage at a reasonable rate so has decided to pay the bill. Mr Scothern now intends to leave the work while he builds up funds and added: “I don’t think I’ll be investing again in the area.”

ELDC collects council tax on behalf of itself, Skegness Parish Council, Lincolnshire County Council and police.

Portfolio holder for finance at East Lindsey District Council Coun John Upsall said: “Legislation changed in 2013 allowing local authorities to set their own level of council tax discount for certain categories of empty property, but also to introduce a premium where a property has been empty for two or more years to encourage long-term empty homes to be bought back into use.

“There are a range of exemptions based on individual circumstances with every case being considered on its own merits. If any resident has a council tax query about a property they have recently bought we would encourage them to contact us at the earliest opportunity so that we can properly advise them.

“Our empty homes officer can also offer advice on bringing empty homes back into use including reclaiming some or all of the VAT back on building and renovation works in certain cases.”