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Council Tax completion notices for new properties

A completion notice (for Council Tax) is a document that specifies the completion date for newly built or newly converted properties, which is the day on which a property becomes a dwelling for Council Tax purposes. The property is banded and entered on the valuation list from this date.

We will issue a completion notice to the owner when we consider the work to a property is structurally complete or expected to be complete within three months. .

A 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.

How we decide the completion date

To ensure our completion notices are accurate, it may be necessary for us to visit and review the property that is being built or altered. Evidence such as photographs may be obtained to enable us to make the correct 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 are in place
  • internal walls are built (although not necessarily plastered)
  • floors are laid (although the screed or top coat of concrete need not have been laid)
  • a permanent availability of gas/electric/water is laid up to the property (but not necessarily connected)

We'll consider a property as liable for Council Tax even if the following work has yet to be completed:

  • 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

For those properties which have reached an advanced level of completion where, for example, ceilings are in place, walls have been plastered and second fixing may have commenced, the amount of time allowed in the notice for full completion of the property may be quite short.

We can issue a completion notice up to three months in advance of the day on which we specify that a property could be complete, while the work is being carried out.

The criteria for determining completion of a property for Council Tax purposes is different to that for determining completion for building control regulations. Therefore it is not relevant whether building control certificates have been issued or not.

Questions and answers

Q. What if the property becomes occupied before a notice is served?
A. If the property becomes occupied 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.

Q. What happens if I cannot complete the building work by the completion date due to financial or personal reasons?
A. Legislation does not allow us to take financial or personal factors into consideration for the purposes of setting a completion date.

Q. What if the landscaping is not complete?
A. Although property access is required, landscaping bears no significance on the determination of a completion date.

Q. Can a completion notice be backdated?
A. 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.

Q. How much time is given for completion?
A. Once a property is substantially complete the maximum time allowable for full completion is three 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.

Q. How will the completion notice paperwork be issued?
A. 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.

Q. What if planning permission contains clauses that prohibit occupation?
A. 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.

Q. What to do if you disagree with the completion notice
A. 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, including contact details and an online appeal form, on the Valuation Tribunal Service's website.

Appealing against completion notices contact:

Valuation Tribunal Service, 3rd Floor, Crossgate House, Wood Street, Doncaster, DN1 3LL
Telephone: 0300 123 2035