Explanation Sought for False Document Used by Hackney Council

Zacchaeus 2000 Trust has helped Hackney resident win an appeal before the Valuation Tribunal England against a five year-old council bill which should have been paid by his landlord in 2004.

David O’Shaughnessy rented a single room at a now-demolished house of multi-occupation at 1G Seal Street in Hackney between 2002-2004. Five years later, in August 2009 Hackney Council demanded he over £2000 owed in council tax on the property, even though it was the responsibility of the landlord in law.

Mr O’Shaughnessy disputed his liability but Hackney Council continued to pursue him despite the law requiring that owners – not residents – must pay council tax on houses in multiple occupation.*

Finally, after a two year battle and an appeal, the Valuation Tribunal England sitting at Whitechapel has upheld Mr O’Shaughnessy’s case with a judgment issued on January 20th 2012.

Mr O’Shaughnessy has already been awarded £200 from an initial complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman – although Hackney Council has failed to pay this. But Z2K are now backing Mr O’Shaughnessy in a further complaint regarding the conduct of the Revenues and Benefits section and the use of pages of a false rent book to try and attribute liability to him.

Alan Murdie, senior lawyer at Z2K who represented Mr O’Shaughnessy at his appeal before the Tribunal stated:

“It has been the law since 1992 that owners, not occupiers, are liable for council tax on houses of multiple occupation. We cannot explain why Hackney Council were so relentless in trying to pin on Mr O’Shaughnessy, rather than the landlord concerned.”

“We are also particularly concerned that Hackney Council tried to rely on pages from a false rent book against Mr O’Shaughnessy. These documents purported to show him paying rent at 1G Seal Street in 1999, when he did not even live in Hackney until over two years later. Either the landlord was some kind of clairvoyant or there is another explanation for this document which has not yet been given. We hope that the complaint will get to the bottom of this mis-use of Mr O’Shaughnessy’s name and identity.”

“Meanwhile, the Valuation Tribunal England has now upheld Mr O’Shaughnessy’s case and I hope that any other council taxpayers who have dispute liability or calculations with their council will also be prepared to appeal there.”


*See the Council Tax (Liability of Owners) Regulations 1992 SI 551                                       –

For more information on the Valuation Tribunal England: www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk