HerbJ, on 25 June 2015 - 09:40 PM, said:
The key to this is that the dwelling must be on the valuation list before council tax becomes due for payment.
The key section seems to be 3.12 - Completion Notices which states in the first pargraph
"There are two ways a dwelling can be shown in a list. Firstly, by coming into existence as a dwelling, and secondly, where the building is not quite completed, by the BA serving a completion notice. If a LO is in doubt as to whether the building is sufficiently complete to constitute a dwelling, the BA should be asked to issue a completion notice before the list is altered. The law in this regard was examined in the case of RGM Properties v Speight LO 2011."
I have quickly read this case and it provides the very helpful opinion at Paragraphs 17 and 18, essentially defining "completion"
- In the more recent case, before the Upper Tribunal Lands Chamber, of Porter v The Trustees of Gladman Sipps  UKUT 204 (LC) the judgment examined the authorities and considered Ravenseft v Nottingham City Council. At paragraph 66 the judgment says:
- "The authorities, in our judgment, establish the following. A building is only a hereditament if it is ready for occupation, and whether it is ready for occupation is to be assessed in the light of the purpose for which it is designed to be occupied. If the building lacks features which will have to be provided before it can be occupied for that purpose and when provided will form part of the occupied hereditament and form the basis of its valuation it does not constitute a hereditament and so does not fall to be shown in the rating list. There is in consequence no scope for including in the list a building which is nearly, even very nearly, ready for occupation unless the completion notice procedure has been followed
- ."It should be noted that the wording there replaces "capable of occupation" with the words "ready for" occupation. If anything turns upon that distinction, I prefer the expression "capable of" which has the support of the Court of Appeal. Otherwise, this seems an uncontroversial summary of that which the cases showed.
Certainly, our Council used the Valuation as a shield to kep us paying council tax and simply informed us that we had to apply to the VOA to remove it from the valuation list, before they would cease to impose council tax. The law would seem to work in reverse - the Council cannot impose council tax until the new house is re-entered onto the valuation list.
Thanks, I think there is a key point in that judgement that applies here, and it explains why the woman at the council was so focussed on our drinking water supply (it was she who kept on about it, not me, I only mentioned the lack of a mains connection in passing as she'd found no record of a connection to the Wessex Water water main in her snooping).
That judgement notes that in order to become a hereditament a building has to have the features needed for the purpose it is to fulfil. In the case of a house that means having a supply of drinking water, I believe. I think the woman at the council picked up on this, and saw that there was a potential flaw in her case against us if we didn't yet have a drinking water supply.
As I understand it, the council now have to issue me with a notice of completion BEFORE they can place the property on the valuation list and that completion notice must give a completion date, OR I can agree a completion day with them without them issuing a completion notice if I wish. There is then a non-liable period of 6 months from that completion day before council tax becomes due (if I have read the guidance correctly). I can appeal the completion day if I don't agree with it and can show reasonable grounds for the building not becoming a hereditament at that time.
Now, the council have REALLY got my back up over this, so I am going to force them to jump through hoops. I had intended to contact them soon to say that we were nearing completion. Now I'm going to force them to issue a completion notice and I intend to appeal it, simply to delay things, whilst staying entirely within the law. I fully intend to push out the liability to pay council tax to the latest possible date. Until that phone call yesterday I'd have been quite happy to pay council tax from the date we completed the house, so frankly they've shot themselves in the foot by taking this heavy-handed approach.
I wonder how many others now get their backs up and do as I intend just because of the way the council approach this?
Edited by jsharris, 26 June 2015 - 06:37 AM.