In this section
The following guidance is designed to help in explaining what principles listing officer’s use when dealing with cases involving properties in disrepair and associated issues.
A primary assumption for Council Tax is that a dwelling is in reasonable repair. There are, however, situations that arise which, owing to the physical condition of a property, raises the question as to whether a dwelling actually exists for Council Tax purposes.
Whether the property qualifies as a dwelling will be decided on the facts of each case.
As a basic principle, properties that are actually occupied will never be removed from a list, even if repair or renovation works are on-going. The cases below assume a property is vacant and in disrepair or undergoing works.
A dwelling is subject to the basic assumption that is in reasonable repair, taking account its age, character and locality. Where a property is neglected and lacks basic repairs, it is assumed that these have been carried out – making it impossible to argue that a property, in poor repair only, is not a dwelling. In these cases a reduction in banding is not possible, nor is removal from the list.
This ensures that all people are treated equally, and that no tax benefit is received from neglecting a property.
There can, however, be a point at which a property has deteriorated to such an extent, over a long period of time, that it is not capable of being repaired without very significant reconstruction works necessary to make it capable of habitation. In addition, in such a state, if it is brought into a habitable condition through major expenditure, the property’s character will have been changed to the extent that it will not bear relation to the type of accommodation that was originally there. It would effectively be new.
Where a former dwelling has reached such a state of dereliction, it may be removed from the list as it is uninhabitable, and incapable of beneficial occupation. Often the rule of thumb test will be “is the property wind and watertight?” Where the intrusion of weather, rot or severe vandalism renders a property in such a state that normal repairs will not rectify the defects to make the property habitable without more major structural work, then the band can be deleted. The dwelling will have ceased to exist.
Just because a property is unmodernised, as opposed to derelict, does not mean it is not a dwelling. Unmodernised properties may not be up to expected modern standards, but they may still be habitable. If the property has been occupied up until a short while before the request for deletion is considered, such an application would be unlikely to succeed. If a property is simply unmodernised, it can still be assumed to be ‘in repair’.
Where a property is undergoing normal repairs, it will still be a dwelling, because it is assumed that the repairs have already been done under the regulations. Normal repairs include renewal of any element of a building that ‘wears out’ over time and needs replacement from time to time such as a roof covering, windows, kitchen or bathroom fittings, rewiring, paintwork and decoration. The cost of repairs is not a relevant consideration
Renovation and structural alteration:
Where the works are more substantial including structural alterations, major renovation or other alterations which render the property incapable of occupation, then the band may be deleted as the property will be undergoing transformation into a new dwelling of different character from the old one it replaces. Such works will be of a much greater scale than normal repairs, and often carried out to a different specification from the original. Significant elements of reconstruction will render effective occupation of any part of the dwelling as living accommodation impossible.
House being converted into flats, or vice versa.
Where a single unit is being converted into two or more units of living accommodation by structural works of division, and cannot be occupied as a single unit, the property can be removed from the list. If part remains occupied then that part would be banded whilst the works are in progress. Each of the new units will be banded as separate dwellings.
House being extended
If the original house remains capable of occupation, then the band will remain in the list. The completion of the extension, however, (assuming it will affect the valuation band) will not be taken into account until after the property is subsequently sold. The new owner will be subject to any higher band.
If the extension required part of the main house to be demolished during the course of the works, or in connection with any planned works, then that demolition cannot be taken into account to reduce the band of the dwelling.
Whilst no council tax will be payable if an entry is deleted from a list, when the property is next banded it will be treated as a new dwelling. All improvements will then be taken into account in the new banding, from the date the new dwelling came into existence.