Damaged roof, fire damage, no utilities - yet Ely House owner is still charged £6,000 council tax

PUBLISHED: 12:34 22 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:59 22 April 2020

The new owner of Ely House in Wisbech claims the property should be exempt from council tax. Picture: CHRIS BISHOP

The new owner of Ely House in Wisbech claims the property should be exempt from council tax. Picture: CHRIS BISHOP

Archant

The new owner of Ely House in Wisbech - a property with a damaged roof, broken windows and no utilities running to it - has been handed an almost £6,000 council tax bill even though it is inhabitable.

The new owners want to restore the property to its former glory. Picture: Archant/Archive/FileThe new owners want to restore the property to its former glory. Picture: Archant/Archive/File

Sidney Imafidon bought the Grade-II Listed property, which is said to be one of the town’s oldest standing buildings, in January even though it had been subject to squatters, vandalism, flytipping and fires in recent years.

But he feels a £6,000 council tax bill is unfair because it isn’t possible for anyone to live there given the structure’s current poor state of repair.

Fenland District Council says “all properties that are inhabitable while undergoing major structural works” are “liable for Council Tax” and the owner should apply for Ely House to be removed from the valuation list.

However the Valuation Office rejected Mr Imafidon’s application even though it determines a “truly derelict property” to be one with issues such as the “roof missing, no internal structure, walls falling down or removed”.

Ely House has been subject to squatters, vandalism, flytipping and fires in recent years. Picture: BERNIE SMITHEly House has been subject to squatters, vandalism, flytipping and fires in recent years. Picture: BERNIE SMITH

Mr Imafidon said: “Ely House had lead stolen from the roof, ceilings have fallen through, cables have been stripped for the copper and no services are running to the property... There’s fire damage... I could go on about its issues...

“If I could live there then of course I’d pay the council tax. But it should be removed from the valuation list and shouldn’t be liable for the charge.”

Ely House - which he bought for £147,000 - is considered to be in Band E and therefore charged £2,422.30 for 2020/21 council tax.

On top of this, there’s a £2,422.30 ‘Long Term Empty Premium’ which the council adds to properties empty for two years and another £1,105 ‘amounts due on the account’.

A Fenland District Council spokesman said it was “widely welcomed” when the “abandoned” Ely House was purchased after “many months of hard work by the council and its partners to tackle anti-social behaviour and criminal activity”.

He said: “The community is now feeling more at peace and we look forward to seeing the historic property brought back into proper use.

“However, as with all properties which are inhabitable while undergoing major structural works, it is liable for Council Tax and subject to the Long Term Empty premium.

“We would urge the owner to contact the Valuation Office if he wishes to request that the property is removed from the valuation list.”

Despite these challenges, Mr Imafidon insists it hasn’t put him off restoring 18th Century Ely House to its former glory.

A Valuation Office spokesperson said it was unable to comment on individual cases.


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