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  4. Council tax completion notice

Council tax completion notice

A completion notice is a document issued by us that specifies the 'completion date' for newly built properties. It is the date on which the property is considered to become a dwelling for Council Tax purposes, and is also the date it is entered into the Valuation list.

A completion notice is issued in accordance with Schedule 4A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Where a domestic property is structurally complete, or where the work remaining can be reasonably completed within three months, we are obliged to serve a completion notice on the 'owner' of the property. The 'owner' is defined as 'the person entitled to beneficial possession'.

Where work on a property is not yet completed, the completion notice will be served specifying the final completion day of up to three months from the date of service of the notice, while the remaining works to complete the property are carried out.

How do we decide on the completion date?

To ensure the accuracy of completion notices council officers will visit and review properties that are being built or significantly altered. Evidence such as photographs will be obtained to enable us to make the right decision. We will consider a property to have reached a stage of substantial completion when the following criteria are met:

  • the basic structure is complete, (external walls and roof in place).
  • internal walls are built (not necessarily plastered).
  • internal staircase built
  • floors are laid (although the screed or top coat of concrete may not have been laid)
  • electric and Plumbing works are at least partly installed (not necessarily complete)

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 shorter than 3 months.

The following work does not need to have been carried out:

  • 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 (although services should have been laid on to the site)

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, whilst the property may well not be complete on the date when the notice is sent, the important date to bear in mind is the date that the council is specifying as the date of completion. 

Building control certificate

The criteria for determining completion for Council Tax purposes are substantially different to that for determining completion for Building Control. Therefore it is not relevant whether building control certificates have been issued or not. 

I am a self-build project, I can’t finish in 3 months

We cannot discriminate positively or negatively towards builders. The criteria set are based on the state of the property alone and no allowance is given for small or large projects. 

Landscaping is not complete

Although property access is required, landscaping bears no significance on the determination of a completion date.

What if a property is complete but not occupied?

If the property is complete, the Council will serve a completion notice on the owner as soon as is reasonably practicable. The Completion Notice cannot be backdated, even if the property has been completed for some time. New properties, whether newly constructed or created by a conversion, which are unoccupied may be entitled to a reduction in council tax.

What if the property becomes occupied?

Newly built and occupied properties do not require a completion notice. The date used to enter onto the Council Tax list will be the date of occupation. The occupier will then be liable to pay the Council Tax.

What if I disagree with the completion notice?

If you disagree with a completion notice you should appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service within 28 days of the date of service of the notice. Your appeal must be made in writing stating the grounds for the appeal and should be accompanied by a copy of the Completion Notice that has been issued to you.

Please contact the Council immediately setting out the reasons why you disagree with the date of completion. Once we have received your enquiry we will review the decision based on the aforementioned criteria. We may explain our decision to you, or ask you for further information about why you disagree with the decision. We will advise you of the decision review as soon as possible. This allows you sufficient time to appeal further should you wish. A revised completion notice will be issued if the review concludes another date would be appropriate. 

Appeals against completion notices

You have the right to appeal to a Valuation Tribunal against the Completion Notice. You must appeal within 28 days of the service of this notice, and appeals should be sent to: 

The Valuation Tribunal
2nd Floor
120 Lehman Street
E1 1DU 


Tel: 0207 4263939

If you have lodged an appeal you must still pay your Council Tax bill until the outcome of the appeal is known. You can find out more information regarding appealing a completion notice on the Valuation Tribunals website