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Practice Note 8: Appendix 2 - Examples of Domestic/Non Domestic Property – Homeworking

1. A detached Edwardian dwelling in a residential area owned and occupied by a self employed solicitor who practices from the property, specialising in Matrimonial Law. The front room on the ground floor is furnished with sofa and comfortable chairs, has a TV set, and ornaments/photos of a personal nature displayed around the room. It is used on an occasional basis as a waiting room for clients during week days, and as the lounge by the occupier during evenings and weekends.

The former dining room is used as an office equipped with computer, dedicated fax and telephone line, filing cabinets, desk and shelving stocked with law books. No domestic use is made of this room. It is used by a part time secretary when the solicitor is visiting clients or attending Court.

The ground floor kitchen is used for preparation of family meals, but also to make tea or coffee for clients. The first floor accommodation of bedroom and bathroom is wholly used for domestic purposes.

Answer: The office is the only non-domestic part. Principal purpose of the front room is to serve as a lounge and non domestic use is de minimis.

2. An integral garage of an estate house is converted to an office with plastered walls, electric power points, solid front, suspended ceiling and floor screed suitable for carpeting. A separate telephone line has been installed. Access is through the hallway of the house. All toilet facilities are in the main house.

The occupier claims that the room is used by the family in the evenings and occasionally at weekends. During the day the occupier designs computer software. He is employed by a major company to work at home, because of a physical disability. All of the equipment has been provided by his company and is specially adapted for his needs. He visits his former office on an occasional basis.

Answer: The former garage is rateable and no longer domestic property. Remainder is domestic.

3. The occupier is employed as a site finder by a major building company, and travels across most of the southern part of the country, using his home as a base, but calling into the company office once a week to pick up new instructions, for meetings, and to leave completed work.

He has a 4 drawer cabinet in the corner of a dining room, which also functions as an 'office' for the family computer, and there is no dedicated telephone line for business purposes.

The occupier is out visiting sites 4 days a week, and does 'writing up' at home on the dining room table in the evenings and at weekends.

No clients or members of the public visit the house for business purposes.

Answer: The whole of the dwelling (hereditament) is domestic property, and should be banded for Council Tax.

4. A doctor uses a room in his house as a consulting room three days a week. The main practice surgery is situated some 3 miles away near the town centre. The house is more convenient for patients who live locally.

A concrete ramp has been added to the front door and the door opening to the hall and the consulting room has been widened to accommodate a wheelchair. No one in the doctor's family is disabled.

In the room itself there is an examination couch which is essentially a single bed with a cotton sheet thrown over it. A paper sheet is added and removed after use by each patient.

There is no office desk as such but there is a computer, table and chair in a corner of the room, which are used by the doctor during his consultations.

No patients records are held at the house, nor are there any medicines. Basic medical equipment is kept in the doctors medical bag or stored in a drawer after use.

There is planning consent for use as a branch surgery and part of the front garden has been surfaced to accommodate 2 to 3 extra private vehicles. There are parking restrictions in the street.

On the walls of the consulting room the doctor has attached pictures painted by his young children, and there are toys in the corner of the room which belong to his children but can be played with by young patients. There is a brass sign outside the front door to advertise surgery hours.

The remainder of the week the doctor attends surgeries at the main premises, and in the afternoons he makes house calls. Other than for consultations the room is often unused, but when friends come to stay it can be pressed into use as a spare bedroom at weekends, and some evenings the doctor uses the room to read professional papers or watch a portable TV away from the children.

Answer: The principal use of this room is as a doctor's surgery, and occasional use for domestic purposes is incidental. The room should be separately rated, and the remainder of the dwelling banded for Council Tax as a composite hereditament.

5. A teleworker formerly employed by a large national company in a call centre now works for the company 5 days a week at home, using a small bedroom to house an office desk, telephone consol, computer terminal and chair, all supplied by her employer. Her hours are flexible but generally the room is used for the purpose of work at least 40 hours each week. During evenings and weekends it is used by other members of the family for leisure and recreational purposes, and by the taxpayer for doing domestic chores such as ironing. No physical alterations have been made to the property other than the installation of new telephone lines, and no members of the public or work colleagues visit the house for business purposes.

Answer: Rateability will not arise unless equipment of a non domestic sort is installed or the property is physically adapted for the non domestic use. This is because the character of the room remains as domestic living accommodation, and the purposes of living accommodation may include recreational and leisure use and work. The taxpayer uses furniture and equipment of a kind that is commonly found in domestic property and there is no interference with domestic use of the remainder of the property.

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