Landlord blamed for council tax mistake

Christine Parkinson, Dalhousie Mains, Dalkeith, has been left with a huge council tax bill.
Christine Parkinson, Dalhousie Mains, Dalkeith, has been left with a huge council tax bill.

An ill mother and her carer son facing eviction have blamed their landlord for putting them into debt by undercharging them for council tax.

Former housing officer Christine Parkinson (49) and her son Patrick Phillips (32) have lived at Dalhousie Mains for three years after a 12-bedroom manse was separated into three houses.

They now have until February 10 to find a new home or face living on the streets.

Christine suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, auto immune hepatitis, ME and depression, and is cared for unpaid by Patrick, who had to give up his full-time job.

However, their landlord, Fiona Taylor, denies she has done anything wrong.

Christine, who used to work part-time and became unemployed in October 2015 due to her ill health, said: “My landlord had been undercharging us. We are now in a debt of £1027 and we are getting evicted because we highlighted this issue. The landlord said it’s because she is moving an elderly relative in but I don’t believe her.”

She said her doctor advised her to move on to Employment and Support Allowance because of her poor health.

“It meant I would get less money, but would be due a council tax rebate,” she said. “However I can’t get that rebate now. I will not pay this bill. Not only can I not afford it, I think it’s wrong. This is not our fault, it’s the landlord’s.”

However, Fiona Taylor said: “Since it is one house, there was one council tax bill. I paid it and received a monthly contribution from the tenants towards this. They were informed of this arrangement.

“Christine requested that I put the council tax for the house into her and her son’s names in order for her to claim future and backdated council tax benefits of some kind. Since I also live in the house and paid the bill I could not put the account into their names alone. Lothian Valuation Joint Board then came to the property to re-band the two sections of the house as separate dwellings. The two new council bands and bills were backdated to when the tenants moved in to the house.

I think the tenants believed they’d be better off after the council’s re-banding but it appears that they are significantly worse off.”

Fiona also denied that Christine and Patrick were to be evicted because of the issue.