Dear All, Any help gratefully received, I could be in a bind here and have never heard of this happening before on any self-build. I need to know if there’s anything I can do to stop it.
I have been building a new house and, for various reasons (money, problems, amount of work we’ve done and size etc) its taken four years. I recently got a council tax notice, which I sent back saying that it was still under construction, didn’t have a working kitchen, no final certificates etc and that until that stage, and getting sign off from building regs/architect, that I couldn’t see we should be paying any tax as we cannot live in it.
A week or so later I got a letter from the revenue services dept of the council saying that they were serving me a completion notice stating that under ‘The provisions of Schedule 4A of the 1988 Local Govt Finance Act and Section 17 of the 1992 Local Govt finance Act enable a Billing Authority to serve a completion notice in respect of any new dwellings, or any dwellings which may be reasonably by expected to be completed within three months.’ It goes on to say that a copy has been sent to a listing officer at the valuation office and that if it remains vacant (unoccupied and unfurnished) the owner will be entitled to an one month grace period from date of completion and thereafter Council Tax empty property charge will be levied. It says if I have a problem with any of this I need to write to them within a month.
My problem is that it ‘could’ be done within the remaining time (3 months) but may not be as there are still structural elements that need doing (which are out of my control) as well as general living requirements needed for any house like running, connected, services, working kitchen etc. Without the structural element completed it would be unsafe (that;s what building regs stated, not myself, and that we couldn’t complete without it being done). How can they say it is reasonable to expect completion within three months and is this enforceable? Surely it is for the architect and building regs to say when a property is completed not just someone in finances at the council to impose an arbitrary date? They have not asked to, nor viewed the state of the property themselves so are, it seems, making their ‘reasonable’ judgement on the outside look from the front, which does look finished….the reality is it is not liveable…..just yet.
Help really appreciated. I don’t know what to do other than just writing to them to explain.