Money Wellness
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calendar icon10 Apr 2024

Should you challenge your council tax band?

As council tax bills rise this month, so do the questions of whether your home is in the right band.

Councils have the freedom to raise tax by 3% — plus another 2% for social care, yearly. It means band D could rise from an average of £2,065 to as much as £2,168  a year, which is £103 more.

What should you do if you think your council tax band is wrong?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), say that they’re expecting to see more than 10,000 extra council tax band challenges in the next 3 months alone.

You can challenge your council tax band if there has been a change that affects your home, or you simply think your band is wrong. Council tax bands are based on how much a property was worth on:

  • 1 April 1991, for England and Scotland
  • 1 April 2003, for Wales

For properties in England and Wales, you must submit your challenge to the VOA. You don’t need to tell your council.

In Scotland, you must submit your challenge to an assessor based in your local Valuation Joint Board or council. Find a Scottish Assessor on the Scottish Assessors Association website.

Challenging your band

It’s important to note that challenges can end in your band going up, down or staying the same .

There are two types of council tax band challenge, and different rules apply for each.

  1. A proposal is a formal challenge, and you can only make it in certain circumstances, such as if you’ve been paying council tax on your property for less than 6 months. This means that, when you make a proposal, by law the VOA must review your band.
  2. A band review is an informal challenge. Anyone who has been paying council tax on their home for more than 6 months can request a band review, but the same legal rights don’t apply. The VOA will only look at your case if you provide strong evidence.

Supporting evidence

If there’s been a change that affects the property:

If you want the VOA to consider a new band, you must submit one of the following:

  • a description of any changes to your property - if it has been demolished, split into multiple properties or merged into one
  • details of your property’s change of use - if part of your property is now used for business
  • a description of how your local area has changed physically - for example, if a new supermarket has been built
  • details of any physical works which have taken place to your property

If you think your band is wrong:

You’ll need to provide addresses for up to 5 similar properties in a lower band than yours. The properties should be the same as your property in terms of:

  • type – if your house is semi-detached, the others need to be semi-detached
  • size - number of bedrooms and total area
  • age
  • style and design

The properties should also be either:

  • in the same street or estate - if you live in a town or city
  • in the same village - if you live rurally

Evidence from house prices:

You can also use the price that your property or similar properties sold for as evidence, if the sales were between:

  • 1 April 1989 and 31 March 1993 - if your property is in England
  • 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2005 - if your property is in Wales

Look up property sale prices online from 1995 and up.

What about using house price calculators?

The VOA don’t consider these as strong evidence as the popular calculators only offer estimate property valuations.

My neighbour’s house is bigger than mine – why are we in the same band?

The VOA says that differences in size don’t always lead to different bands.

My property was built after the 1991/2003 valuation date- so is my band wrong?

Your band is based on the price your property could have been sold for on a fixed date. This date is called the antecedent valuation date (AVD). It’s 1 April 1991 in England and 1 April 2003 in Wales.

If your property was built after the AVD, the VOA look for sales data on properties that were new around that time, as well as the bands of similar properties.

How do I submit my band challenge?

The VOA says they review cases they get in date order. You can submit a proposal or band review by phone, email, letter or using the online service.

If you’re submitting a proposal, you can also use their online form.

After you’ve submitted your challenge, the VOA will review it and contact you with any next steps. As of April 2024, their response times are about a month.

Other council tax help

You might be eligible for a discount. If you live alone, you can get the single person discount of 25%. Some people are also "disregarded" when you’re calculating how many people are in the house. This includes under 18s and students, so check you’re not paying for anyone you shouldn’t.

You may also get a discount if you’re on low income, have a disability or ‘severe mental impairment’, usually dementia or a bad stroke, or you’re a carer. Find out if you’re eligible.

 

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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