A completion notice is a document that specifies the 'completion date' for newly built properties.
It is the date on which the property becomes a dwelling for Council Tax purposes, and is the date it is entered into the valuation list.
There are six regulations in respect of completion notices. Four are issued in accordance with Schedule 4A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and a further two are issued in accordance with Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.
Where a domestic property is deemed to be structurally complete, or where the work remaining can reasonably be expected at the time of the inspection to be completed within three months, a completion notice will be served on the 'owner' of the property. The 'owner' is defined as 'the person entitled to possession.
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.
Criteria used to decide a completion date
Visiting Officers will periodically conduct visits to review dwellings that are being built or altered. Photographic evidence and written notes will be obtained to enable Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) to make the 'right' decision. At the stage a decision is made that a property has reached 'substantial' completion a completion notice will be issued.
MVDC use the following criteria when making the decision that a property has reached a substantial completion.
- the basic structure is complete, for example all external walls and roof are in place.
- internal walls are built (although not necessarily plastered).
- floors have been laid (although the screed or top coat of concrete need not have been laid).
Where properties have reached an advanced level of completion, for example, the ceilings are in place, the walls have been plastered and second fixing may have commenced the time allowed for completion of the property will be significantly reduced.
A property will be considered and ready for banding, even if the following work has not been carried out or 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 providing services has been laid on to the site.
List of timescales the Council will use to determine the date for completion:
- the basic structure is complete, for example all external walls and roof are in place (three months)
- internal walls are built (although not necessarily plastered) (three months)
- floors have been laid (although the screed or top coat of concrete need not have been laid) (three months)
- joists (within six weeks to finish)
- studwork and partitioning (within six weeks to finish)
- door linings (within six weeks to finish)
- window boards (within six weeks to finish)
- staircases (within six weeks to finish)
- plasterboard (Within six weeks to finish)
- cable network (Within six weeks to finish)
- hanging of doors (within three weeks to finish)
- fixed mouldings (within three weeks to finish)
- installation of power points (within three weeks to finish)
- light fittings, locks and handles (within three weeks to finish)
- drainage & sanitary ware boxed-in (Within three weeks to finish)
- radiators and boilers (within three weeks to finish)
- decoration (within three weeks to finish)
- electrical testing and connection (within one week)
- estimated timescale for second and final fix work to reasonably be expected to be completed (within one week)
The criteria for determining completion for Council Tax purposes are substantially different to that for determining completion for Building Control; therefore, whether building control has issued a certificate or not will not be relevant.
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, whilst at the date when the notice is sent the property may well not be complete, the important date to bear in mind is the date that the council is specifying as the date of completion.
This is a statutory requirement in schedule 4, 1(1) Local Government Act 1988 If it comes to the notice of a charging authority that the work remaining to be done on a new building in its area can reasonably be expected to be completed within three months, the authority shall serve a completion notice on the owner of the building as soon as it is reasonably practical, unless the Valuation Officer directs otherwise in writing.
When a property is complete however not occupied
If the property is complete, MVDC 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 will be subject to the usual charges, exemptions and discounts when it is brought onto the Council Tax list.
When a property has been occupied
Once a property becomes occupied the date used to enter onto the Council Tax list will be the date of occupation.
Appealing against the decision of the completion notice
The regulations specify that 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.
It must be made in writing stating the grounds for the appeal and should be accompanied by a copy of the completion notice. The reasons as to why the date of the completion notice should be detailed in full.
You can find further information on the Valuation Tribunal Service website.
The office that will deal with your appeal is: Valuation Tribunal, 2nd Floor, 120 Leman Street, London, E1 8EU
Email: VTWhitechapel@vts.gsi.gov.uk or call 0300 123 2035.