We had an email recently from a resident who’s had a nasty surprise about his council tax.
Imagine you move house. You find a nice place to live, and it’s even had an extension added to it a few years ago to make it even better. The previous owner has shown you his council tax bills , and you saw that the council tax banding for the house was quite reasonable.
Then six months after you’ve moved in, you get a letter that tells you that because of the extension, your house has been revalued for council tax purposes, and it’s gone up a band. What’s worse, the increase is backdated to the day you moved in!
Unfortunately , this seems to be the correct legal situation. If someone has an extension (or similar) carried out on their home, they have to inform the council for planning permission or building control purposes. The council then pass that information onto the Valuation Office Agency, which is the government department which values property for council tax purposes. They then hold that information on file.
Even if there’s been a dozen improvements to a property, the council tax banding won’t change until there’s been a change of ownership.
When a property is sold, the Valuation Office check through their files as soon as they hear about it from the Land Registry (which can take months). If the improvements are enough to move the property into a higher band, the revaluation comes into effect from the date of sale.
Through no fault of your own, you can find yourself with a council tax debt dating back six months.
So if you are moving into a home where you know there’s been a nice extension or big conservatory added on, be warned – the council tax might be higher than you have been told.