What are Council Tax bands?
Local councils set the amount of council tax you need to pay based on your council tax band. They are calculated by looking at the value of your property at a certain time. April 1991 in England and Scotland, and 2003 in Wales. Northern Ireland kept the old system of domestic rates and in 2007 changed to a modified system. The Council Tax band system was not adopted in Northern Ireland and so domestic rates are set individually.
Council Tax Band Assessment
The VOA assesses properties to ensure that they’re in the correct Council Tax band. They automatically assess some properties, for example when a property has been made smaller or when a property is newly built. The VOA also assesses properties when asked to do so, such as during a Council Tax appeal or band review.
Assessments are based on a number of factors, such as a property’s:
- change in use
- value on 1 April 1991 (England) or 1 April 2003 (Wales)
A property that’s increased in size may move to a higher band when it’s next purchased.
If you have any concerns regarding the assessment of your Council Tax band contact the VOA.
When a new property has been built, or an existing property is converted to domestic use (for example, a warehouse conversion), the property will need to have a Council Tax band.
If you’ve moved into a property that doesn’t have a Council Tax band, you should contact your local council. They’ll provide the VOA with the information they need to allocate a band.
There’s guidance available on how to start paying Council Tax.
Banding of Houses In Multiple Occupation
Domestic properties that have separate dwellings are known as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Each separately let part of a property qualifies as a separate dwelling with its own band. There may be circumstances where the VOA can combine the bands.
HMOs with little or no adaptation: Where minor adaptations have been added then the VOA can put the whole property into one band. This could be where door locks are added and the occupants of the separately let parts share the kitchen and bathroom of the original house.
HMOs with adaptations to each floor: A single band can be given where each floor of a house let in parts has standard facilities and can be treated as a self-contained unit. This applies where the occupiers of the floor share a kitchen and a bathroom.
HMOs with adapted letting rooms: Separately let rooms in a HMO may have been adapted, for example, so that they have their own kitchenette or separate shower/bath and WC. They will be given their own band even though may share some facilities. In making a decision, the VOA will look at the degree to which each part has been structurally altered.
Purpose built HMOs: These properties would generally not be combined and would have separate assessments for each internal unit.
There’s more information available on houses in multiple occupation.
Your local authority calculates a separate Council Tax bill for every property banded and collects payments. The council is responsible for applying relevant discounts or exemptions.
If you believe your band is wrong, or your household shouldn’t be banded at all, you may be eligible to appeal.
Council Tax Bands and Annexes
If the VOA determines that your property contains more than 1 area of separate living accommodation, you may find you’re charged for more than one Council Tax band.
The VOA is required by law to apply a separate Council Tax band to every:
“building, or part of a building, which has been constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation”
The operational instructions followed when applying this can be found in Practice note 5: disaggregation of dwellings in the VOA’s Council Tax manual.
“A family adapts two rooms in their house so that a relative is able to live with them. This includes installing kitchen appliances and a toilet and shower and also creating a single entrance to the new annexe. As a separate area of living accommodation this annexe would normally require its own Council Tax band.”
The VOA will make a decision on every case based on the specific nature of the construction and / or adaptation of the property, such as:
- independent access to, or access from, a hallway, landing or other common area
- its own facilities for sleeping and preparing food
- washing facilities and a toilet
Only physical features are considered when deciding whether or not an additional area of living accommodation exists within a domestic property, not how it’s used. A separate Council Tax band is still required if an area of a house, flat or other domestic property which could be occupied separately is vacant.
Accommodation occupied by tenants wouldn’t be treated as an annexe, but it would still have its own Council Tax band.
Various discounts and exemptions are administered by your local authority (council).
If you’ve removed a separate area of living accommodation by making physical changes to your house, flat or other domestic property, you should contact the VOA. The VOA will only be able to remove a Council Tax band if the area or annexe has been sufficiently altered so that it could no longer be lived in separately.
The VOA is unable to give specific advice on any planned changes to a property. They can only explain how relevant Council Tax regulations are applied.
If you think your property has incorrectly been given an additional Council Tax band, you have the right to appeal that decision.