Thursday, 24 May 2018

Man told to pay £6,000 in costs after home dispute

A MAN has been told to pay more than £6,000 in costs after being judged to own two homes in the Henley area

A MAN has been told to pay more than £6,000 in costs after being judged to own two homes in the Henley area.

David Vaughan was said to be wrongfully claiming a 25 per cent single occupier discount from South Oxfordshire District Council.

He challenged the council?s decision not to classify his house in Greys Road, Henley, as his only home for council tax purposes in the High Court but his claim was dismissed.

The council said Mr Vaughan was living mainly at a house in Northend and was liable to pay more council tax but he claimed this property belonged to his mother and he had no stake in the house. Mr Vaughan claimed the council had wrongly classified his sole residence as a second home.

?My mother?s house is nothing to do with me so it can?t be my main residence for council tax,? he said. ?I?ve got no interest in my mother?s house ? it has nothing to do with me. It?s no different to a hotel as far as the law is concerned.

?I just want my 25 per cent discount that I?m entitled to. People go travelling or working in different countries for years and yet their sole residence is still in this country.?

The court ruled that the while the Greys Road house was furnished, it was ?long-term empty and unoccupied?

Mr Vaughan, who is self-employed, admits to using his mother?s home through the day as his working base but usually slept at the Greys Road house.

He said he had stayed at the Greys Road house for 239 nights between November 2009 and February 2011.

?The council accepts I was staying there for a vast number of nights but this was disregarded,? he said. ?They classified it as empty and unoccupied but I showed evidence I stayed there for 239 nights.

?I had to photograph my movements permanently to prove to the council which bed I slept in. When I got out of bed I would take another picture and send it to the council.?

Mr Vaughan, who represented himself in court, had previously challenged the council?s powers to inspect his property at an investigatory powers tribunal but this was also dismissed.

Between August 2009 and January last year, council officers visited the Greys Road property on 17 occasions. This involved climbing ladders at the rear of the property to take photographs. Mr Vaughan said this was like ?big brother? surveillance, adding: ?They would make unannounced inspections and take pictures through windows that are 11ft off the ground. I didn?t like that. ?Since I found out they were doing it I?ve just kept my curtains closed being I hate being spied on.?

Mr Vaughan is not currently living at Greys Road property while it is being refurbished but says this has no relevance to the case.

He has now applied for a stay of execution while he makes prepared to appeal to the High Court?s decision.

Mr Vaughan said: ?This is not finished? there will be several more court cases to go through. The council has thrown so much weight at it and it must have cost them tens of thousands of pounds. It has become more and more ridiculous?

Steve Bishop, the council?s strategic director for finance, said: ?The council is responsible for administering council tax and is accountable to the council taxpayers at large, who contribute to the cost of providing local services.

?Taxpayers can rest assured that the council is no soft touch and will use every effort to recover tax due.

?We had no option but to defend our decisions in this case, which will set a precedent for us locally as well as nationally.?

Mr Vaughan has always paid his council tax in full and is up to date with his payments.

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