That’s put a hole in council tax demands

Lightning damage to Tony Tubb's house in South Cliff, in October last year
Lightning damage to Tony Tubb's house in South Cliff, in October last year

A pensioner who cannot live in his home which was struck by lightning was “outraged” to discover he still had to pay council tax.

Toby Tubb, 79, felt this was “simply not fair” because the property has been uninhabitable.

I think the rule is grossly unfair

However he appealed to the independent Valuation Office Agency and is thrilled this has been successful.

Now he will get back all the council tax payments he made since October 9.

The four-bedroomed 
property on South Cliff was struck through the roof so badly it seemed the structure might be damaged.

Tony feared the whole house, where he lived for 40 years with late wife Denise, and worth an estimated £1 million, would have to be demolished.

Ever since he has not been able to stay there and is in rented accommodation paid by his insurer. Extensive repair work will take five months and has meant he has not been able to move back but this did not prevent the council tax demand, although Tony was given a 50 per cent reduction which he still found unacceptable.

However he has now been informed that because the house needs a new roof no-one could be expected to live there, and he need not pay council tax and will be refunded back to October.

Tony told the Observer: “I think the rule seems totally unfair. If you cannot live in a house why should you have to pay council tax? That is why I put in the appeal - the council tax office just told me to pay. I think the rule is grossly unfair but now I am being refunded - and I thought other people might find it helpful to know this.”

A council spokesman said: “As the authority responsible for collecting council tax, Rother District Council is only able to offer a 50 per cent council tax discount for 12 months on properties which are uninhabitable and undergoing repair. When Mr Tubb first brought his case to the attention of the council, we advised him to consider applying to the independent Valuation Office Agency for a temporary removal of the property from the rating list. Having been successful in his application, council tax is not chargeable on the property and payments from October 2014 will be refunded.”