Married Couples And Partners
Occasionally married couples or partners are temporarily separated due to personal circumstances and/or work commitments. This can create some confusion/dispute as to their main place of residence and possible entitlement to receive Council Tax discounts.
For the purposes of Council Tax a married couple or partners would reside in the same property, i.e. the matrimonial/family home. The period of time spent in different homes is not the paramount factor when deciding where someone has their main place of residence. Consideration must be given to a wider range of matters, including security of tenure, family considerations and a person's long term intention to own/occupy a dwelling; a temporary absence does not deprive a person of residence.
Consequently, if a property is the matrimonial/family home and the relevant absentee returns from time to time, or can return to it whenever he/she likes, then this will be classified as his/her main residence.
Listed below are summaries of some High Court cases relevant to married couples/partners and their sole/main place of residence. You will see from these that a great deal of influence is placed on the matrimonial/family home, as being a couple's main place of residence.
CITY OF BRADFORD METROPOLITAN BOROUGH COUNCIL v NEIL ANDERTON (1991)
A merchant seaman's sole or main residence was held to be his house in Bradford on the basis that: it was where his home was; it was his settled or usual abode which he left only when the exigencies of his occupation compelled him to do so for absences of long or short duration; it was where his wife and family lived; and, he had no security of tenure on his ship. A merchant ship plying the high seas cannot in law constitute a person's residence.
WARD v KINGSTON-UPON-HULL CITY COUNCIL (1993)
Mr Ward spent only six to nine weeks in the United Kingdom and his wife was considering joining him in Saudi Arabia. The High Court held that Mr Ward had greater security of tenure at his dwelling in the United Kingdom, as opposed to that at his employment-related accommodation in Saudi Arabia, and that on this basis Mr Ward and his wife had their sole or main residence in the United Kingdom.
CODNER v WILTSHIRE VALUATION AND COMMUNITY CHARGE TRIBUNAL (1994)
The High Court confirmed the principle that time was not the only factor to be considered in determining sole or main residence.
COX v LONDON SOUTH WEST VALUATION TRIBUNAL (1994)
The taxpayer spent time at two dwellings. The High Court concluded that the sole or main residence was the home where the wife and family resided.
DONCASTER BOROUGH COUNCIL v STARK (1997)
It was held that where a member of the Armed Forces was obliged to live in service accommodation elsewhere, his/her main place of residence remained their family home. The decision was based on Corporal Stark's security of tenure, the time spent there when not on duty, and the fact that he would return there should he no longer be required by the Forces.
This was despite the payment of Ministry of Defence deductions for Council Tax in respect of forces' accommodation at which he was required to be present from time to time and as part of his terms of employment.