Council Tax update

It is clear that moorings of all types are attracting the attention of cash-strapped councils. The position and advice, distilled and published by the RBOA and reported on this site in 2010 is being modified by the VOA (the Valuation Office Agency) as councils force case law judgement. It is clear that paying council tax is going to become a much more common component of mooring costs, whether levied through marinas passing on council imposed bills as is happening in Leicestershire or directly on CRT managed moorings.

Boats will normally be in Band A, £1,027 a year this year which could add £85 a month to mooring charges and would become, normally the 2nd highest of the three charges, license, mooring fees and council tax.

A CRT mooring at Avoncliff is  £1160 per year and the licence for a 60 foot boat £733.97.  Total : £2,920.67

Would one, for this kind of money, perhaps start expecting more? A postal address? Better access to services?

 

From the the Government’s VOA website manual on Council Tax for boats;

Summary of Policy
The policy that the legislation is intended to achieve can be summarised as follows. Although this specifically refers to boats and moorings the same principles apply to caravans and their pitches.

a) If a boat which is someone’s sole or main residence is moored “permanently” at a mooring, then the mooring is domestic property, and both the mooring and the boat are subject to Council Tax.

b) If a boat which is someone’s sole or main residence stops at a mooring and moves away for a sufficiently long period (see 6.2), and it seems that when next in use that mooring will be used by that same boat or another boat which is someone’s sole or main residence, then the mooring is domestic but the mooring only is subject to Council Tax.

c) If a boat which is someone’s sole or main residence is moored at a mooring and moves away, and it seems that when next in use the mooring will be used by a non-sole or main residence boat, then the mooring is non-domestic and subject to non-domestic rates.

d) If there is a mooring with no way of telling what sort of craft will be moored at it, then it is non-domestic and subject to non-domestic rates.

Whether the value of the boat or caravan can be included with the pitch is a matter of fact and degree. As a general rule, where a dwelling boat or caravan occupies a mooring or pitch for a substantial period of time – such duration would usually be for 12 months or more – it should be included in the band value, even if it moves away for brief periods of say 2 to 4 weeks, provided it then returns to its original mooring or pitch. The question to be asked is whether the occupation can be characterised as that of a ‘settler’ or a ‘wayfarer’. If the latter, then only the mooring or pitch should be valued.

To be clear, this paragraph refers only to the treatment of the chattel value, not to establish whether a dwelling exists – that is the established mooring or pitch. A caravan does not have to be in place on a recognised pitch for 12 months to establish the pitch as a dwelling, nor does a boat have to be moored on a recognised mooring for 12 months to establish the mooring as a dwelling.

Even if the sole or main resident of a caravan or boat does not have exclusive rights to a particular pitch or mooring if, in practice, the caravan or boat occupies the land with sufficient permanence it will be included with the mooring as domestic property, and the value included in the Council Tax banding.

and this gives an assessment of where the boat can be considered for valuation purposes which by increasing the total valuation could affect the Band (usually Band A) that a mooring is in

PN 7: Appendix 4: Is a boat part of the dwelling?
The following examples illustrate circumstances where boats used wholly as living accommodation may or may not be regarded as part of the hereditament together with the mooring, and therefore to be included in the Council Tax banding valuation.

Example 1
A couple lives in a purpose-built houseboat comprising a timber-clad building on a pontoon. They pay rent for a mooring on the river bank with its own anchor points, access way, water supply and drainage connections. The houseboat has been moored in that location for several years, although it is moved every 2 or 3 years to carry out maintenance to the pontoon.

The mooring is a separate hereditament because it is occupied exclusively by one boat for a period of more than 12 months. The mooring is also domestic property by virtue of s.66(4) because it is occupied by a boat which is someone’s sole or main residence. Although a chattel, the houseboat can be regarded as enjoyed with the land with such permanence as to enhance its value, and should be included in the valuation for banding purposes.

Example 2
A family lives in a barge which has been converted to provide living accommodation. They pay rent to the riparian (‘of river bank’) owner for a mooring on the river bank with its own water supply and sewage connection. During the year, the barge moves away at weekends and holidays of more than 2-4 weeks duration leaving the mooring vacant until its return.

The mooring is a separate hereditament because it is used exclusively by one boat during the year. When the barge is present, the mooring is domestic property by virtue of s.66(4) because it is occupied by a boat which is someone’s sole or main residence. When the barge is absent, the mooring is domestic property by virtue of s.66(5) because it appears when next in use the mooring will be domestic. However, the barge is insufficiently permanent to be regarded as part of the hereditament, and the mooring only should be valued to determine the appropriate band.

Example 3
A man lives on a motor cruiser with living accommodation on board. He rents a berth in a marina comprising a finger pontoon at right angles to the bank with water supply and sewage pump-out. The marina operator controls access to the site and reserves a continual right to move the boat from its mooring. When the boat is absent, as it frequently is for weekends and holidays, and even though the boat owner pays rent continuously in order to reserve a berth at the site, the marina operator allows other boats to use the mooring.

Although the mooring is virtually in permanent use and affords self-containment to any boat with living accommodation, the cruiser owner’s occupation of the mooring is non-exclusive and insufficiently permanent for him to be liable for Council Tax. The marina operator is in paramount occupation of the mooring for the purposes of his business of running a marina. If the other boats which use the mooring are also someone’s sole or main residence, only the mooring would be domestic property and subject to banding. The boat itself would not be included in the valuation.

If the other boats which use the mooring are not someone’s sole or main residence or there is no way of knowing what their use would be, the mooring will be non-domestic. If there are two or more such moorings in the marina, all the moorings and land under the control of the marina operator should be treated as one hereditament by virtue of the Multiple Moorings Regulations. The marina operator will be in permanent occupation.

Example 4
A couple live on a narrow boat as their sole or main residence. They pay a mooring fee to the British Waterways Board for one of several moorings along the towing path and a licence fee to be on the canal. They share a water tap with the other boats, but the nearest sewage disposal facility is some distance away. Periodically, they move the boat to dispose of sewage; and every few years the boat is taken into dry dock for essential maintenance. British Waterways Board reserves a continual right to allocate a different mooring, for example, in order to accommodate boats of different length at the site, but in practice the boat returns to the same mooring, which is not used by other boats in its absence It has a postal address and post is delivered direct to the boat.

The mooring is domestic property by virtue of s.66(4) and sufficiently defined as to form a separate hereditament. The boat is moored with a sufficient degree of permanence as to be enjoyed with the mooring and therefore should be regarded as part of the hereditament and be included in the valuation for banding purposes.

If however the separate moorings along the canal bank are not easily identified, either in the agreement with BWB or on the ground, and can vary each time a boat is moored, as the boat always returns to a different position, then the hereditament will comprise of the whole length of moorings along that part of the canal, and the rateable occupier will be the BWB. The boat will not form part of the hereditament because it lacks sufficient permanence to be enjoyed with the land.

If the moorings are solely occupied by boats which are the sole or residence of an individual, then there will be a single Council Tax banding of all the moorings. However, should pleasure boats also use the moorings, the moorings should be treated as a composite hereditament. In many cases a common sense view will need to be taken of the extent of the domestic and non-domestic parts, and regulation 7(1) of the Council Tax (Situation and Valuation of Dwellings) Regulations 1992 requires a band to be ascribed which reflects the value which would reasonably attributed to the domestic use. The distribution between domestic and non domestic use will therefore reflect how the market would view the use of the hereditament, if it were made available with vacant possession. The actual use of the moorings at compilation date, or a notional distribution based on the prevailing pattern of use along moorings in that locality can be adopted.

Where a single composite hereditament is appropriate, the non domestic part in this example will be included in the Central List assessment for BWB, and a single Council Tax band will be entered in the valuation list for the residential moorings.

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2 Responses to “Council Tax update”

  1. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    Government / Council attempts to charge Council tax to any boater will fail. Boaters living in dwellings that are movable have no liability for Council Tax. See CH 0844 2002 decision of the social security commissioner. This ruling is deemed Law. The text of the document includes boats moored on 12 month residential moorings where the boat is capable of being moved. As stated, a private marina (or brutish waterways) will attempt to pass on their liability for Council Tax to the customer (the moorer) as a standard business practice using terms and conditions stated in a mooring agreement. Housing Benefit will not pay a boaters Council Tax where liability rests with the land owner. Such terms and conditions should be firmly resisted as they should not be used to change or amend Law, and any such standard that threatens enforcement for non-payment should be viewed as Ultra Vires and an unfair contract to the detriment of the consumer under the The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. Article 8 will apply 🙂

    • admin MonsterID Icon admin says:

      The point of this article is that the ground is shifting and it is no longer sufficient to stand by 2002 judgements.

      Marina’s are passing on Council Tax charges.

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