In a case which makes plain that a single home may have two front doors, the Upper Tribunal (UT) has ruled that it is legally possible for adjoining properties occupied by one large family to be viewed as a single dwelling house.
A man and his extended family occupied two adjoining semi-detached houses, each of which was separately registered in the Council Tax valuation list. The relevant local authority decided that, as a matter of law, the family could only reside in one of those properties for the purposes of Council Tax benefit.
The council took the view that the man’s benefit claim was defeated by the fact that the property said to be unoccupied by the family was valued at more than £16,000. However, the man’s lawyers insisted that, as he and his family in fact lived in both houses, the value of the purportedly vacant property fell to be disregarded in the calculation of his capital.
Ruling in the man’s favour, the UT found that, on the facts of the case and as a matter of law, the two properties formed a single dwelling. Both the local authority and the First-tier Tribunal, which had dismissed the man’s initial claim, had made serious procedural mistakes in dealing with the matter and, in those circumstances, the UT was at liberty to substitute its own decision.