What is a completion notice?

A completion notice is a document that specifies the ‘completion date’ for newly built properties. It is the date on which the property becomes a dwelling for Council Tax purposes and is the date it is entered into the valuation list.

The 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 reasonably be expected to be completed within three months, a completion notice will be served on the ‘owner’ of the property. The ‘owner’ is defined as ‘the person entitled to possession’.

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

What criteria do we use to decide a completion date?

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.

From the point of second fix, we would consider the property as being substantially complete.

Second fix:

  • hanging of internal and external doors
  • fixing of skirting, architraves, and decorative mouldings
  • finishing off staircases and balustrade
  • installation of power points
  • installation of light fittings, switches, handles and locks
  • boxing in - waste runs and sanitary ware
  • radiators and boilers
  • guttering and down pipes

In these circumstances, the amount of time allowed in the notice for full completion of the property may be quite short.

In order to be considered and ready for banding, 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 be laid on to the site)

Fitting out

The building may be treated as completed on a date arrived at by adding on to the date of substantial completion the time reasonably required for carrying out that work.

Therefore, if a building is substantially complete, we can set a completion date at the end of the period starting with the date of substantial completion and allowing such time as is reasonably required (up to 3 months) for carrying out the remaining works.

This allows for such buildings which are finished to a shell and are not fitted out until a tenant or purchaser is found.

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

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

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. A completion notice cannot be backdated, even if the property has been completed for some time.

New properties, whether newly constructed or created by conversion, which are unoccupied and substantially furnished will be subject to a full charge when it is brought into the Council Tax list.

What if the property becomes occupied?

A new or altered dwelling does not require a completion notice once someone starts to live there. The date used to enter into the Council Tax list will be the date of occupation.

What if I disagree with the completion notice?

The regulations specify that if you disagree with a completion notice you should appeal within 28 days of the date of service of the notice to the Valuation Tribunal Service.

It 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; however, you can contact us in the first instance setting out the reasons why you disagree with the date of completion.

You can appeal the decision on the Valuation Tribunal Service website

Prior to making an appeal you can email visiting@torbay.gov.uk to explain why you disagree with the date of the completion notice and we will check if the completion date should be amended, and a new completion notice issued. Please quote in the subject field of your email Completion Notice Appeal and ensure that in the body of your email you include the property address and account number.

Please note that delays in the completion of a property due to issues such as financial factors, building contractor delays, limited workforce resources, the weather and availability of materials are not matters that can be considered when we decide to issue a completion notice.