Hainault post office boss wins five-year £12k business rates battle – but Redbridge Council threatens further legal action

Yunus Patel, 61, has been left 'unbelievably stressed' by a row with Redbridge Council over £12,000

Yunus Patel, 61, has been left 'unbelievably stressed' by a row with Redbridge Council over £12,000 in unpaid tax owed on a shop which has been lying empty next to his post office for five years. Photo: Google - Credit: Archant

A five-year row over unpaid business rates has left an Hainault 61-year-old “unbelievably stressed”.

Redbridge Council took Yunus Patel, of Manford Way, Hainault, to court on December 14 over £12,000 worth of unpaid tax on a shop next to his post office, which has stood empty for five years.

The case was thrown out by the presiding judge last month, but in spite of this the council said it will consider taking Mr Patel back to court if he still refuses to pay.

Mr Patel, who has lived in the borough since 1985 and run his post office in Hainault for the past 12 years, said the situation has had a negative impact on his health.

The post master once rented the empty shop next door as part of his post office, but moved out in 2013 after downsizing.

Mr Patel claims he is not liable to pay business rates on the empty property since he does not own it and has not been using it, but Redbridge Council has chased him for the outstanding taxes for the past five years and says it will continue to do so.

A spokesman for the authority said the council asked Mr Patel to return the empty shop in “a satisfactory condition” on his departure in 2013, but claims he did not do this and so is liable for the outstanding business rates.

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The 61-year-old said he was “over the moon” at the judge’s dismissal of the council’s case against him last month, hoping it would mean the end of an “unbelievably stressful” five years, but is now worried the situation could continue.

He claims he made many changes to the empty shop, installing new windows and rewiring the property but none of this satisfied the council which “demanded more and more.”

Mr Patel said: “This is all happening at the taxpayer’s expense, lawyers to fight the council’s case, court fees. This country is going to the dogs.

“I have nothing to hide, but the council is absolutely useless, someone needs to be held accountable for this.”

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “Mr Patel entered into a legal agreement with the council and Post Office in 2013 that the ending of his lease was wholly dependent on him returning the property in a satisfactory condition.

“Unfortunately, he did not do that, which means he is still the sub-tenant and therefore liable for the business rates.

“We have a duty to collect business rates to pay for vital local services.”

The spokesman added the authority would be happy to speak to Mr Patel about the lease arrangements further.

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