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New properties and completion notices

What is a completion notice?

A completion notice is a  document that specifies the completion date for a newly built property.  It is the date on which the property becomes a habitable dwelling for Council tax purposes and is the date that it will the be entered into the Valuation List.

Completion notices are issued in accordance with Schedule 4a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

A completion notice will be served on the 'owner' of the property, where a domestic property is structurally complete, or where the work remaining can be reasonably expected to be completed within 3 months.  The 'owner' is defined as 'the person entitled to possession'.

Where work on a property is not yet completed, the completion notice can be served specifying the final completion day of up to three months from the date of service, for the remaining works for completion of the property to be carried out.

A completion notice may be served up to three months in advance of the day on which the council has specified that a property is complete; therefore, whilst on the date the notice is sent the property may well not be complete, it is important to bear in mind the date that the council has set for completion.

How do we decide on a completion date?

To ensure our completion notices are accurate, our Revenues Retention Officer will periodically visit and review any properties that are being built or altered.  We often use photographs to enable us to make the right decision.

The Council will consider a property to have reached a point of substantial completion when it meets the following criteria:

  • the basic structure is complete - all external walls built and a roof is in place
  • Internal walls are built - they do not necessarily have to be plastered
  • Floors laid

Some properties will have reached a more advanced level of completion - ceilings are in place, and walls plastered.

In order for a property to be considered ready for banding, the following work does not need to have been carried out:

  • Internal decoration of the property
  • Final fitting of bathroom and kitchen units
  • Final fitting of plugs, switches and electrical points
  • Final connection of utilities - i.e gas, water and electricity

Building Control and Council Tax criteria for completion notices are very different, therefore it is not directly relevant if a building control certificate has been issued or not.

What if a property is complete but not occupied?

If the property is complete, the council will serve a completion notice on the owner as soon as is reasonably practicable. A completion notice cannot be backdated, even if the property has been completed for some time.

New properties, whether newly constructed or created by conversion, which are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished will be entitled to a 3 month exemption when it is brought into the Council Tax list.

What if the property becomes occupied?

A new or altered dwelling does not require a completion notice once someone starts to live there.  The date used to enter onto the Council Tax list will be the date of occupation.

What if I disagree with the completion notice?

The regulations specify that if you disagree with a completion notice you should appeal within 28 days of the date of service of the notice to the Valuation Tribunal Service.

It must be made in writing stating the grounds for the appeal and should be accompanied by a copy of the completion notice that has been issued to you; however, you can contact us in the first instance setting out the reasons why you disagree with the date of completion.

Once we have received your enquiry we may ask for further information, and will advise you of our decision as soon as possible, to allow you sufficient time to appeal further if you wish. A revised completion notice will be issued, if necessary.

Appealing your property banding

If you disagree with the band that has been applied to your property you may make an appeal to the Valuation Office Agency at the address below, not to us. 

Council Tax Bands are based on property values as at 1 April 1991. The current Valuation List went live on 1 April 1993. The grounds for appeal about banding are restricted to the following cases:

  • Where you believe that the banding should be changed because there has been a material increase or material reduction in the dwellings value
  • Where you start or stop using part of your dwelling to carry out a business, or the balance between domestic and commercial use changes
  • Where the Listing Officer has altered a list without a proposal having been made by the taxpayer
  • Where you became the taxpayer in respect of a dwelling for the first time (your appeal must be made within six months, but if the same appeal has already been considered and determined by a Valuation Tribunal, it cannot be made again) 

Making an appeal does not allow you to withhold payment of tax owing, so in the meantime you must continue to pay your Council Tax in accordance with the payment arrangement on your current Bill. If your appeal is successful and you have overpaid you will receive a refund of any overpaid tax or if you prefer this can be offset against any Council Tax still due. 

In order to appeal against your banding you will need to contact:

Valuation Office Agency

2 Broadway

Broad Street

Birmingham

B15 1BG

Telephone: 03000 501501

Liability Disputes

You can appeal to us if you consider that you are not liable to pay Council Tax, for example, because you are not the resident or owner, or because your property is exempt, or that we have made a mistake in calculating your bill. If you think you should not be liable to pay Council Tax, then you must first notify us in writing stating the reasons why you think you are not liable so that we have the opportunity to reconsider your case.

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