Completion notices are required under council tax legislation when a new or converted property is nearing completion.
A completion notice is served by Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) when it considers that a property is complete or that it is reasonable to assume that the work remaining can be completed within three months. The completion notice should be served as soon as is reasonably practical.
For the purpose of completion notices the 'owner' is defined as '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 constructed or created by conversion, which are unoccupied and unfurnished, are exempt from council tax for up 28 days, discount Class C applies in these cases. Following the expiry of the 28 days exempt period, provided the property remains unfurnished and unoccupied, the full council tax becomes due. The start of the 28 day exempt period is the completion date determined by the council.
(Completion notices are issued in accordance with Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, and Section 4A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988).
What criteria does MVDC 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.
It should be noted that in order 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 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 by either Building Control or for the National House Builders Certificate therefore whether either of these certificates has 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, while at the date when the notice is sent the property may not be complete, the date the council is specifying is the date by which the property could be completed.
Disagreements with the Completion Notice
The regulations specify that if you disagree with a completion notice you should appeal to the Valuation Tribunal within 28 days of the date of service of the notice.
However, you can write to MVDC setting out the reasons why you disagree with the date of completion. Once MVDC has received your letter, further information may be required but you will be advised of the 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.
Revenue Section, Mole Valley District Council, Pippbrook, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1SJ - Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01306 879293.
Valuation Tribunal Service, 2nd Floor, 120 Leman Street, London E1 8EU - Email email@example.com or telephone 0300 1232035