(1) British Gas statement about an Ofgem directive - & (2) Council Tax

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T
Trapezio
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We recently (late December '13) queried with BGas an account just received for one of our BTLs which is between tenancies - there has been no usage of Gas or Elec in the empty period but the account showed a "Standing Charge" based simply on a charge per day. This is contrary to what we knew was the tariff for this BTL (& our other BTLs) - ie when empty, there is no charge if there is no usage. BGas replied (& apologised) but said that, under direct instructions from Ofgem, they & all other energy suppliers have been forced to apply a daily charge, from 1st Jan 2014. The apology was "yes, we realise that this particularly affects landlords & folk with holiday homes - but we have been forced by Ofgem and can do nothing about this". We regard this as yet another stealth tax - and a penalty against landlords who are trying to provide a necessary service to help resolve the housing crisis. If this is indeed an Ofgem "directive", why has there been no consultation with (eg) our industry before reaching the conclusion that this is somehow "fair & reasonable"?? It is neither. If the BGas statement is in fact true, can you please advise what, if anything, can be done about this appalling "directive" - ie what, other than writing a letter of complaint to our MP (which is usually a waste of time/paper/postage)? Is this a "directive" which contravenes some piece of European legislation? How can it best be challenged - and reversed?
My second issue is of a similar nature - unless we have missed it in your quarterly newsprint & regular emails.... there seems to have been no RLA campaign on the subject of the government penalising landlords for having properties empty (for whatever reason) beyond the Council Tax exemption period and the related further penalties of (a) being charged a premium over the 100% tax charge where a property remains empty for more than 12 months and (b) the fact that a Council can now set its own premium rates as well as deciding what level of relief (if any) is provided to tenants who are in receipt of benefits. The services (supposedly) provided by Council Tax are of no benefit whatsoever to the owner of an empty property. Again, more stealth taxes which only encourage landlords to dispose of their portfolios, thereby exacerbating the housing crisis. (NOTE: We realise of course that having an empty property makes no financial sense - but it is sometimes unavoidable where a decision has been made to sell a property - but there is refurb work to be done prior to sale - and of course the sales market is still in the doldrums, which could mean the property is on the market for longer than the tax exemption period. This is still no justification for this stealth tax). Appreciate your comments.
06/01/2014 21:13

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Martin Co
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