Completion Notices and Council Tax on new properties
A completion notice is issued when a newly constructed building is considered complete for Council Tax purposes.
Legislation does not provide a definition of 'complete' in respect of new properties and therefore it is up to each local authority to determine their own policy.
If your property is being newly built or newly converted, you do not have to pay Council Tax on it until the completion date. This is the date on which the property becomes a dwelling for Council Tax purposes and is entered into the Valuation List.
When a property is structurally complete, or where the work remaining can reasonably be expected to be completed within 3 months, a completion notice will be served on the “owner” of the property on the basis we have decided it is substantially complete. The “owner” is defined as “the person entitled to possession”. The owner may initially be the property developer until the property is sold.
A completion notice is issued in accordance with Schedule 4A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
To make sure that our completion notices are accurate, our officers regularly visit and review dwellings that are being built or altered. We may collect evidence such as photographs, to help us make our decision.
Council Tax completion notice policy
We consider a property to be substantially complete when it meets the following criteria:
Shell and Core:
- all external walls are complete
- roof tiles are laid
- ceilings are in place
- floors have been laid (although the screed or top coat of concrete need not have been laid)
- staircase(s) have been fitted
- external doors fitted
- windows fitted
- a permanent availability of gas/electric/water is laid up to the property (but not necessarily connected)
The position from foundation up to plastering:
- cutting and laying of joists
- erecting studwork and partitioning
- fixing door linings
- fixing window boards
- assembling and erecting staircase(s)
- fixing cable network around shell
From the point of first fix, we would consider the property as being substantially complete.
With a competent workforce, second fix works required after plastering, could be carried out in a reasonably short period of time.
- hanging of internal and external doors
- fixing of skirting, architraves and decorative mouldings
- finishing off staircases and balustrade
- installation of power points
- installation of light fittings, switches, handles and locks
- boxing in – waste runs and sanitary ware
- radiators and boilers
- guttering and down pipes
Work carried out after painting and decorating
- fitting and fixing
- electrical testing and connection
The building may be treated as completed on a date arrived at by adding on to the date of substantial completion the time reasonably required for carrying out that work.
Therefore, if a building is substantially complete, we can set a completion date at the end of the period starting with the date of substantial completion and allowing such time as is reasonably required (up to 3 months) for carrying out the remaining works.
This allows for such buildings which are finished to a shell and are not fitted out until a tenant or purchaser is found.
No building control completion certificate?
The criteria for determining completion for Council Tax purposes is different to that for determining completion for building control. Therefore, it is not relevant whether building control certificates have been issued or not.
What happens if I cannot complete the building work by the completion date due to financial or personal reasons?
Legislation does not allow us to take financial or personal factors into consideration for the purposes of setting a completion date.
Landscaping is not complete?
Although property access is required, landscaping bears no significance on the determination of a completion date.
What if the bathroom and kitchen units need fitting?
This work need not have been carried out for a property to be considered substantially complete.
How will your Council Tax be affected?
Once your property is considered complete, it will be subject to a full Council Tax charge from the completion date. This is the date it is brought onto the Council Tax Valuation List.
What if the property becomes occupied?
If the property becomes occupied before a completion notice is served, it will be entered onto the Council Tax Valuation List and the occupier will be liable to pay Council Tax from the date of occupation: A completion notice will not be issued.
Can a completion notice be backdated?
No, a notice and completion date can only be with immediate effect (even if the property has been substantially complete for some time).
If the date is effective immediately this is the date the notice is sent if delivered by hand or if sent in the post the date deemed to have been received allowing for sufficient working days for usual service by the Post Office.
How much time is given for completion?
Once a property is substantially complete the maximum time allowable for full completion is 3 months. The time given will vary depending on what stage the property is at. If for example Second Fix is under way the amount of time allowed in the notice for full completion may be quite short.
How will the completion notice paperwork be issued?
By post to the usual or registered address of the 'owner'. If this address is unknown by affixing it to some conspicuous part of the building.
What if planning permission contains clauses that prohibit occupation?
If your grant of planning permission contains clauses that prohibit occupation before certain work is completed and this work has not been completed by the proposed completion date, please let us know as you may be entitled to a Council Tax exemption. However, this will not change the completion date.
What to do if you disagree with the completion notice
If you disagree with a completion notice, you must appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service within 28 days of when the notice was served. Your appeal must be in writing, stating the grounds for the appeal, and you must include a copy of the completion notice that has been issued to you.
If you are thinking about submitting an appeal, please contact us straight away.
We will look at our decision again, and we may:
- explain it to you in more detail
- ask you for more information about why you disagree with it
- change our decision and send a revised completion notice
We will advise you of our new decision as soon as possible, to allow you enough time to submit an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service if you wish.
You can find out more about the Valuation Tribunal part of the appeal process and submit an online appeal on the Valuation Tribunal Service's website.
Contact the Valuation Tribunal Service
Telephone: 0303 445 8100
Telephone: 0300 300 8306
Please quote your Council Tax account reference if you have one – your account reference is 8 or 9 digits long and starts with a 4, 7 or 8.