Platinum Property Partners lettings network is encouraging landlords to back a campaign to abolish council tax re-banding for shared houses.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has powers to charge council tax per room as opposed to per property. The effect of such a re-banding is that bills can be much more expensive for landlords. Such dramatic rises can then trigger rent rises for tenants.

Tory MP Caroline Dineage, has tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to reverse re-banding and ensure that HMOs are rated as a single household for council tax purposes.

Dineage says “The Valuation Office Agency has been applying council tax to bedrooms that are not self-contained spaces. This ultimately makes each bedroom a separate dwelling, resulting in the tenant being liable for council tax on a bedroom. This disproportionately affects young, hardworking individuals who are now required to pay council tax on a property which doesn’t fit the criteria”

“My amendment seeks to change the definition of a dwelling to include self-containment, so that we can prevent the imposition of council tax individually on tenants of a room in a house with shared facilities.”

PPP claims that over 200 of its landlords are sending representations to their own local MPs. The network is asking other landlords to do the same for maximum impact.

Emma Hayes, managing director of PPP, says: “The time has come again for HMO landlords to stand together and strive for positive change in the private rented sector. Although HMOs have been at risk of council tax re-banding since the early 1990s, the actual occurrence has remained low, until now. With increasing requests from councils to re-band properties, it’s crucial we get the measures reversed so that landlords can continue to provide high quality affordable accommodation to their housemates.”

“To put the impact into context, one particular HMO in the PPP network that was classed as a single dwelling in Band D had a monthly council tax bill of £1,223.77 in 2017/18. Following a re-band to six individual units in Band A, the monthly bill rose by 200 per cent to £3,671.29, including a 25 per cent single occupancy discount.”

“It’s a significant difference and prevents landlords from being able to provide tenants with an affordable rental bill that is often inclusive of bills. The administration is also an added management strain on landlords, who have to notify the council every time a tenant changes, and we are hearing reports that councils continue to chase old tenants for payment, even when the landlords are often authorised as responsible for payment of council tax.”

“If individual rooms are suddenly billed as a separate units for council tax purposes, tenants will undoubtedly see their rents increased or no longer benefit from the level of financial certainty of having one all-inclusive monthly housing cost.”

PPP now wants HMO landlords to contact their local MPs to back the amendment. 

A template letter has been prepared for landlords to use and can be downloaded below.