Sussex students taken to court because they didn’t sort out their council tax exemption in time
They later posted footage of their ‘fun day out’ on TikTok
A group of Sussex uni housemates were taken to court last week because they didn’t sort their council tax exemption in time.
Third year student Charlie Ponton, posted a TikTok of himself and his five housemates visiting court last week over not paying their council tax bill, despite students not being required to pay council tax by law.
The TikTok, currently with over 61k views, shows the housemates outside Brighton Magistrates Court, and is captioned: “When your uni house gets taken to court for not paying council tax but it’s a fun day out”.
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Households made up entirely of full time students are exempt from paying council tax. This means all residents need to be on courses at least one year in length, and require a minimum of 21 hours of study per week.
Ponton explained that the housemates had previously filled out exemption forms in their last uni house and were unaware that they needed to complete another exemption form upon moving into the new property. After each of the housemates received individual bills for the council tax amount of £1,019.24 they submitted a new exemption form to the council.
Due to a delay between the submission of the exemption form and crosschecking it with the university, the housemates were still summoned to court and were warned people could come to the house and take their belongings if they didn’t attend.
At court the matter was closed after the housemates said they were students. Staff at the court completed the crosscheck that day, and explained that there is a two-to-three-week delay between submitting the form and completing the check.
Ponton said: “Obviously you don’t really get that explained to you. So we didn’t really know that, like no one actually gives you the information on that stuff”.
Ponton also went on to say how he and his housemates felt after the experience. He said: “We were just really relieved because obviously we got a lucky outcome. We went, we weren’t there for very long, we didn’t get charged any fees, and it was dropped basically.
“What they sometimes say is that if you do your exemption form and it takes a while you can still be liable for the council tax amount up until you submit that form. So we could’ve had to pay two, three hundred pound for the couple of months that we didn’t submit the exemption form.
“We were grateful after it happened that, that was our outcome. We were really relieved. It definitely could’ve gone much worse.”
Brighton and Hove County Council has been contacted for comment.