Completion notices for new properties

What is a Council Tax completion notice?

The council has a statutory duty to issue completion notices for newly built properties in accordance with Schedule 4A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Where we consider that 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 or on the property, where the owner can not be identified, as soon as it is reasonably practical.

The completion notice will specify the completion day, which is the day on which a property becomes a dwelling for Council Tax purposes.

It is then given a band by the Valuation Office Agency so that we can start charging Council Tax.

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.

What criteria do we use to decide a council tax completion date?

Council officers regularly visit and review dwellings that are being built or altered. They will take photographs and request access to the dwelling to enable us to make the right decision.

A property is considered to have reached a stage of substantial completion when it has reached 'first fix' stage which means:

  • 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)

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 ready for a council band to be assigned, the following work does not need to have been carried out at the property:

  • internal decoration of the property, including the fitting of internal doors
  • final fitting of bathroom and kitchen units
  • final fitting of electrical fixtures, plug points and switches
  • final connection of water, gas and electricity

The criteria for determining the completion of a property for council tax purposes are substantially different to that for determining completion for building control regulations. The fact that a building control certificate has not been issued yet is not a requirement for Council Tax purposes.

It is important to remember that a completion notice for Council Tax may be served up to 3 months in advance of the day on which the council specifies that a property will be complete. It may well be the case that the property is not completed by the completion date.

However this will not change the date on the completion notice - the criteria we must use is that at the time the notice was served it was reasonable to expect that the property could be completed by the date specified.

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 subject to a full charge when it is brought onto the council tax list.

What if I disagree with the completion notice?

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. Information on how to appeal is contained on the Valuation website.

Prior to making an appeal you call the council on 01274 437725 or email to explain why you disagree with the date of completion and we will check if the completion date should be amended and a new completion notice issued.

Please note that delays in the completion of a property due to issues such as financial factors, building contractor delays, limited workforce resources, the weather and availability of materials are not matters that can be considered when we decide to issue a completion notice.