Where the Council considers a property is complete or the work remaining to be done on a new building can reasonably be expected to be completed within 3 months, a completion notice will be served on the owner of the property as soon as it is reasonably practical.
For the purpose of completion notices the 'owner' is defined a 'the person entitled to possession'. The completion notice is a document that specifies the completion day, which is the day on which it becomes a dwelling for council tax purposes. It is then entered into the valuation list with effect from that date.
This avoids any of the uncertainties which could arise if the date of completion were fixed retrospectively, such as who was liable and for how long.
What if a property is complete but unoccupied?
New properties, whether newly constructed or created by conversion, which are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished are not exempt from council tax, and are subject to the full charge.
The effective date of the full charge is the date when it is deemed to be complete as determined by the completion notice issued by the Council, in accordance with Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act.
What criteria do we use to decide a completion date?
A property will be considered to have reached a stage of substantial completion when it meets the following criteria:
- The basic structure is complete, for example all external walls and roof in place.
- Internal walls are built (although not necessarily plastered).
- Floors laid (although the screed or top coat of concrete need not have been laid).
A notice may be served specifying a final completion day of up to three months from the date of service for the remaining works for final completion of the property to be carried out. A notice could also be served specifying a completion date within three months even if the above criteria are not fully met.
Many properties will have reached an advanced level of completion where, for example, ceilings are in place, walls have been plastered and second fixing may have commenced.
In these circumstances the amount of time allowed in the notice for full completion of the property may be quite short.
In order to be considered and ready for banding, the following work does not need to have been carried out:
- Internal decoration of the property.
- Final fitting of sanitary ware and kitchen units
- Final fitting of electrical plug points and switches
- Final connection of water, gas and electricity (although services should be laid on to the site).
The criteria for determining completion for council tax purposes are substantially different to that for determining completion for Building Control therefore whether building control certificates have been issued or not is not directly relevant.
It is important to remember that a completion notice may be served up to three months in advance of the day on which the council specifies that a property is complete.
Therefore, whilst at the date when the notice is sent the property may well not be complete, the important date to bear in mind is the date that the council is specifying as the date of completion.
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 who are an independent body who make rulings on such matters.
However, you can write to the council if you wish in the first instance setting out the reasons why you disagree with the date of completion.
Once the council has received your letter, we may ask for further information or we 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.
Contact Details for the Valuation Tribunal
120 Leman Street
Tel: 020 7426 3939
Fax: 020 7247 6598